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EEV.  GEO.  W.  3ETHUNE,  D.  D. 


REV.  A.  R.  VAN  NEST,  D.  D, 




Entered  according  to  Act  of  Congress  in  llie  year  18G7,  by 


In  the  Clerk's  Office  of  the  District  Court  for  the  Southern  District  of  New 

3.  E.  FAftWKLL  &   CO., 

Stercotypers  and  Printers, 

ST  Congress  Street, 




Eaelt  Life. 1 

TcENiNG  TO  God ,        .        19 

Seminary. — Visit  to  the  South 41 

Rhinebeck  Miktstky 70 

Ministry  in  Utica.  S^ 

Settling  in  Philadelphia. — Wanderings  in  Europe.  .        122 

Success  in  Philadelphia. 1^3 


Art  of  Angling.— Eorest  Life.  199 


Literary  and  Public  Labors 226 

New  Church  at  Brooklyn. — Goes  Abroad.         «        •       .•       249 



Plattorm  Oratoet. #273 

Anonymous  Attack. 319 

Patriotism. — Union  Speech. 352 

Departure    from    Brooklyn.  —  Residence    in    New   York. — 

Return  to  Europe 376 

Closing  Scenes 407 

Personal  Reminiscences 424 


The  compiler  of  tbis  volume  presents  the  results  of  his  labor  to  the 
public  with  modesty.  This  does  not  arise  from  any  want  of  interest 
or  importance  in  the  subject,  but  JDecause  it  has  been  found  difficult  to 
present  the  portrait  of  a  person  so  varied  in  gifts  and  rich  in  culture. 
He  prefers  therefore  to  call  it  a  Memoir,  as  an  instrument  to  preserve 
Dr.  Bethune  in  memory,  rather  than  a  life  which  could  assume  to  give 
a  full  and  perfect  representation.  If  there  is  any  deficiency  it  is  not 
caused  by  any  lack  of  loving  assistants  in  the  good  endeavor.  Seldom 
has  a  book  been  written  in  which  so  many  willing  hands  have  borne  a 
part.  First  and  foremost  stands  Mrs.  Bethune,  who,  with  untiring 
fidelity,  has  collected  her  husband's  correspondence  and  has  contrib- 
uted many  precious  associations  Mr.  George  Trott  of  Philadelphia, 
frequently  known  in  the  subsequent  pages  as  "  the  Major,*'  has  filled 
up  many  blanks.  J.  B.  Brown  Esq.,  formerly  consul  at  Florence, 
Italy,  has  been  useful  in  collecting  letters,  and  his  facile  pen  has  sup- 
plied many  connecting  sentences.  Finally,  when  pastoral  duty 
compels  the  editor  to  leave  the  country,  Rev.  Dr.  W.  J.  R.  Taylor,  of 
the  American  Bible  Society,  has  promised  to  see  the  book  safely 
through  the  press.  The  names  of  other  generous  assistants  will 
appear  as  the  work  proceeds,  and  to  them  our  readers  will  owe  a  debt 



of  gratitude.  Specimens  of  Dr.  Bethune's  sermonizing  would  have 
been  given  were  it  not  contemplated  to  produce  at  least  two  volumes 
of  his  popular  lectures  and  choice  discourses.  That  there  must  be 
difference  of  opinion  as  to  the  positions  taken  by  a  man  of  such  strong 
character  on  great  questions  is  certain,  but  the  aim  of  the  biographer 
has  been  to  take  his  view  from  the  stand-point  of  his  subject,  and  not  to 
justify  his  course.  Let  those  opposed  exercise  the  grace  of  charit)'. 
The  Memoir  has  been  delayed  by  the  collection  of  material,  in  fact 
the  work  was  not  fully  put  in  our  care  until  a  httle  more  than  a  year 
since.  If  the  result  shall  be  to  revive  the  love  that  any  felt  for  this 
'*  radiant  messenger  of  God,"  if  it  shall  justify  him  in  the  sight  of  any 
who  have  misunderstood  his  theories;  above  all,  if  it  shall  be  the 
means  of  winning  any  to  that  Saviour  whom  it  was  the  sincere  and 
single  desire  of  Dr.  Bethune  to  proclaim,  the  writer  will  not  have 
labored  in  vain :  Salvete  Omnes. 


GEO.   W.   BETHUNE,  D.  D. 



WHEN  a  person  has  gained  a  distinguished  position,  and 
made  a  marked  impression  upon  the  men  of  his  time, 
it  becomes  interesting  to  observe  the  method  or  training 
by  which  such  power  has  been  acquired.  It  must  be 
confessed  that  the  subject  of  our  memoir  stood  eminent 
amongst  his  own  countrymen,  and  while  much  of  his 
success  was  due  to  natural  gifts,  vastly  more  must  be 
attributed  to  early  culture  and  divine  grace.  George  W. 
Bethune  was  descended  from  a  long  line  of  honored  and 
pious  ancestry.  On  the  paternal  side  he  sprang  from  the 
French  Huguenots.  In  Picardy  a  large  town  bears  the 
family  name,  and  his  house  could  boast  of  relation  to  the 
Duke  of  Sully,  the  friend  of  King  Henry  IV.  * 

Persecution  compelled  them  to  join  in  the  exodus  from 
their  native  country,  and  they  found  a  new  home  in  Scot- 

*  The  name  "  Bethune  "  holds  an  illustrious  place  in  French  history.  The  family 
were  Counts  of  Flanders,  and  one  of  them,  Bobert  de  Bethune,  signalized  himself 
by  taking  La  Roche  Vandais  where  the  rebel  Marcel  had  retired.  Another  of  the 
same  name  in  Sicily  killed  Maufuoy,  the  tyrant,  an  act  which  Charles  of  Anjou 
rewarded  by  the  gift  of  his  daughter  Catherine  as  wife.  In  later  times  they  formed 
the  highest  social  connections,  even  contracting  royal  alliances.  —  ifcmofr*  o/  the 
Duke  of  Sully. 


2  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

land.  From  Rosshire  in  that  land,  Divie  Bethune,  the 
father  of  Dr.  B.,  emigrated  in  early  life  first  to  Tobago, 
West  Indies,  and  afterwards  to  the  United  States,  locating 
in  New  York.  His  motive  for  the  latter  change  seems  to 
have  been  a  religious  one,  as  is  evident  from  his  first  intro- 
duction to  notice  by  Mrs.  Graham  :  — 

"There  is  a  young  man  here  of  the  name  of  Bethune  (pronounced 
Beaton),  who  was  in  Tobago,  and  has  told  me  of  his  steadiness  in  non- 
conformity to  the  world  even  there,  and  his  strict  adherence  to  his 
profession,  though  he  stood  one  of  two  who  made  any.  This  young 
man  became  alarmed  even  there,  and  though  his  prospects  of  rising  in 
life  were  confined  to  that  place,  he  finally  took  the  resolution  to  leave 
it  and  seek  a  Christian  land ;  he  engaged  here  as  a  clerk  in  a  wholesale 
store,  and  wandered  about  from  church  to  church  for  some  time,  at  last 
our  John  nailed  him,  by  the  blessing  of  God,  and  last  Sabbath  he 
became  a  hopeful  communicant.  He  is  a  lad  of  sense,  has  had  a  liberal 
education,  and  John  thinks  him  a  double  acquisition." 

His  early  promise  was  not  disappointed.  He  soon  became 
one  of  the  most  prominent  and  successful  merchants  of  the 
city,  around  whom  the  younger  would  gather  for  advice. 
His  piety  increased  with  his  years,  and  he  was  ready  for 
every  good  and  generous  enterprise ;  in  fact  there  was 
little  in  the  way  of  Christian  benevolence  in  which  he  was 
not  a  leader  or  a  vigorous  assistant. 

"He  printed  the  first  religious  tract  long  before  the  Tract  Printing 
House,  he  imported  Bibles  for  distribution  long  before  the  Bible  Society 
was  opened,  was  a  foreign  director  of  the  London  Missionary  Society 
long  before  any  Missionary  Society  existed  here,  was  one  of  the  found- 
ers of  the  American  Colonization  Society,  and  amongst  the  very 
earliest  movers  in  the  cause  of  Seamen,  long  before  the  Seamen's 
Friend  Society." 

He  was  one  of  the  founders  of  the  Princeton  Theological 
Seminary.  When  most  successful  in  business,  this  good 
man  had  an  inclination  to  abandon  his  brilliant  prospects 


and  enter  Princeton  Seminary,  that  he  might  be  fitted  to 
become  a  missionary  to  the  destitute  parts  of  the  country, 
and  then  he  exults  at  the  thought  of  his  entire  family  being 
"  Witnesses  for  Christ/' 

About  this  period  he  became  acquainted  with  Miss  Joanna 
Graham,  who  was  a  member  of  the  Scotch  Presbyterian 
Church,  with  which  he  connected  himself,  under  the  pastor- 
ate of  Dr.  John  Mason  ;  she,  like  him  (Mr.  B.,)  was  earnestly 
devoted  to  Christ,  and  sympathized  in  all  his  benevolent 
ideas ;  she  was  born  in  America,  but  her  family  were  also  from 
Scotland,  and  their  faith,  eminent  through  successive  gen- 
erations, brought  down  to  her  a  rich  inheritance  of  cove- 
nant promises.  Her  mother  was  Mrs.  Isabella  Graham, 
whose  life  of  shining  goodness  has  given  her  a  high  place 
in  Christian  biography.  The  father  and  mother  of  this  lady, 
Mr.  and  Mrs.  John  Marshall, were  both  pious,  and  her  grand- 
father was  one  of  the  Elders  who  quitted  the  Established 
Church  with  the  Rev.  Ralph  and  Ebenezer  Erskine.  She 
married  Dr.  John  Graham,  who,  becoming  a  surgeon  in  the 
British  army,  was  ordered  to  Canada,  and  tlius  the  family 
fixed  its  future  abode  in  the  New  World.  The  father  having 
died,  Mrs.  Graham  who  had  a  finished  education,  was  in- 
duced to  open  a  school  for  young  ladies  in  New  York,  in 
the  management  of  which  she  was  assisted  by  her  daugh- 
ters. This  school  soon  became  very  flourishing,  and  a 
source  of  blessing  to  many  ladies  of  the  highest  social  po- 
sition. To  one  of  these  daughters,  Miss  Joanna,  Mr.  Be- 
thune  professed  his  love,  and  after  much  serious  reflection 
and  prayer,  a  marriage  was  consummated.  The  union  of 
such  godly  persons,  well  grounded  in  the  doctrine  of  Christ, 
full  of  zeal  in  his  cause,  was  very  happily  consummated  ; 
all  their  children  were  converted  in  their  youth,  and  their 
only  son  became  the  useful  minister  concerning  whom  we 

4  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

write.  He  was  born  March  18,  1805,  at  Greenwich,  then  a 
small  village,  but  long  since  absorbed  in  the  magnificent 
growth  of  New  York  City.  He  was  peculiarly  a  child  of 
prayer  ;  devout  intercession  was  made  before  his  birth,  and 
the  event  is  thus  acknowledged  in  his  father's  diary. 

*'  Lord,  O  Lord!  how  shall  I  praise  thee  for  the  mercies  of  this  day. 
Truly  it  may  be  said  of  me  and  mine,  what  hath  God  wrought.  Thou 
art  our  trust.  Blessed  be  the  Lord  for  a  living  mother  and  a  living 
child.  Oh !  remember  my  request  this  morning.  Eeceive  my  dedica- 
tion of  my  son.  Thou  knowest  all  along  what  I  have  asked  of  my 
God,  that  if  he  gave  me  a  son,  he  might  be  sanctified  from  the  womb, 
and  be  made  a  faithful,  honoured  and  zealous  minister  of  the  everlasting 
gospel.  Lord,  hear  us  in  this  thing.  0  !  let  this  son  be  chosen  of  thee 
to  declare  to  the  Gentiles  the  unsearchable  riches  of  Christ.  Give  to 
his  dear  mother  and  myself  grace  and  wisdom  for  bringing  him  up  in 
the  nurture  and  admonition  of  the  Lord.  Let  him  be  a  Samuel  to  the 
Lord.     1  Sam.  1:27,  28." 

A  similar  act  of  dedication  occurred  at  his  baptism  on 
April  14,  1805  : 

"  This  afternoon  my  dear  infant  son  George  was  baptized  by  Mr. 
Forrest.  I  hope  I  can  say,  that  with  full  purpose  of  heart  he  was  de- 
voted to  the  Lord  by  both  his  dear  mother  and  myself.  Mr.  F.  preached 
from  Gen.  1 :  27,  and  after  sermon  came  home  with  us,  and  prayed  fer- 
vently for  our  infant  and  other  children.  O  my  God !  thou  hast  seen 
my  exercises  this  day  ;  the  strong,  simple  faith  I  exercised  in  the  prom- 
ises thou  hast  made  me  to  fasten  upon,  for  n)y  dear  infant  George  this 
day  devoted  to  thee.  Lord,  honour  this  faith  of  thine  own  operation. 
Let  a  blessing  always  attend  the  means  of  grace  and  instruction  to  tliis 
man  child,  whom  thou  hast  given  us.  Open  his  understanding  early  to 
understand  the  Scriptures.  Affect  his  heart  even  in  infancy  to  love  tlie 
precious  Saviour,  and  to  adore  his  covenant  Jehovah.  Instruct  his 
mother  and  me  to  instruct  him.  Direct  to  proper  teachers.  Teach  the 
teachers  to  teach  and  bless  their  labours  to  him.  Fortify  his  young 
heart  against  the  temptations,  the  false  pleasures,  the  alluring  vanities, 
the  contaminating  examples  of  an  evil  worM.    May  he  seek  thee  early 

EAKLY     LIFE.  5 

and  find  tliec.  Endow  him  richly  with  spiritual  gifts.  Give  him  the 
learning  of  the  world,  and  the  divine  wisdom  to  use  his  learning  and  his 
abilities  for  the  noblest  purposes,  the  illustration  of  thy  love,  thy  will, 
thy  grace  to  sinners  of  mankind.  Make  him  a  faithful  minister  of 
Jesus  Christ,  humble,  holy  and  self  denying.  Give  him  a  contented 
mind,  a  thankful  heart.  May  he  declare  the  whole  counsel  of  God,  and 
while  he  is  faithful  and  sound  in  his  doctrine,  do  thou  grant  him  to  be 
eloquent,  animated,  impressive  and  acceptable.  I  ask  all  this,  for  thou 
art  able  to  grant  all  I  can  ask.  I  ask  it  now,  young  as  he  is,  knowing 
that  thou  art  God.  Life  is  thy  gift,  life  spiritual  and  divine  is  thy 
work  in  the  soul  of  man,  all  the  gifts  and  graces  of  the  Holy  Spirit 
are  thine  to  bestow,  power  to  make  the  preacher's  word  successful  is 
of  God,  thou  canst  guide  through  life,  conduct  through  death,  and 
minister  an  abundant  entrance  into  glory.  To  whom  then  shall  I  go  ? 
To  whom  would  I  go  ?  My  God !  unto  thee,  and  thee  alone.  Hear  my 
supplications  this  day.  Behold  the  promises  I  have  taken."  Isaiah  44 : 
3,  5.  65:23,  24,  69:21." 

Most  remarkable  prayer  and  how  wonderful  the  fulfilment. 
God  granted  to  this  man  of  faith,  the  very  things  he  sought 
for.  The  entire  diary  of  Mr.  Bethune  might  be  published 
to  show  the  atmosphere  which  hallowed  the  home  of  this 
young  Samuel,  and  as  a  pattern  for  Christian  parents. 
Every  important  step  in  his  life  was  sanctified  by  believing 
prayer.  Only  a  few  months  passed,  when  he  was  brought 
very  low  by  an  attack  of  scarlet  fever.  This  stroke  came 
very  heavily  upon  the  parents,  as  they  had  lately  been 
called  to  part  with  a  beloved  daughter,  and  now  God 
seemed  about  to  take  away  their  only  son.  It  was  a  time 
"  of  great  searchings  of  heart/^  of  deep  humiliation  and 
earnest  wrestling  with  God,  in  that  pious  family.  The  good 
man  prays,  but  he  asks  according  to  the  rule  of  faith, 
*•'  Lord,  let  this  dispensation  have  a  blessed  effect,  let  us 
search  our  hearts  and  see,  may  we  search  them  as  with 
the  candle  of  the  Lord.'^  As  the  case  grows  more  alarm- 

6  MEMOIR   OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

"0  my  God!  it  appears  to  be  thy  \rill  to  ask  of  us  the  surrender  of 
our  dear  George,  also.  Lovely  babe!  How  proud  we  were  of  him.  Bat 
who  gave  him?  Who  made  him  such?  None  but  thou,  my  God. 
Therefore,  however  dear  to  our  hearts,  however  consoling  to  our  pride, 
this  precious  gift  may  have  been,  it  is  our  duty  to  resign  him  to  thy  call. 
0 !  make  it  a  willing  duty  on  our  part.  Let  grace  reign  in  our  hearts 
to  humble,  to  sanctify  and  to  resign.  To  do  this  must  be  thy  work.  *  *  * 
But  yet,  low  as  he  appears,  it  is  still  in  thy  power  to  save  his  life,  and  to 
restore  him  to  us.  Lord,  if  it  be  lawful  for  us  to  urge  this  request,  we 
do  urge  it.  What  people  is  so  great  as  thy  people?  Who  have  God  so 
nigh  unto  them  as  the  Lord  our  God  is  to  us  in  all  things  that  we  call 
upon  him  for  ?  Lord,  if  it  be  really  thy  purpose  to  take  from  me  my 
George,  O,  receive  him  to  thyself.  May  I  yet  meet  my  babe  in  heaven, 
and  there  hear  him  sing  to  all  eternity  glory  to  our  God." 

When  in  answer  to  this  effectual,  fervent  prayer  of  a 
righteous  man,  health  was  restored,  the  voice  of  thanksgiv- 
ing went  up  from  that  habitation,  and  the  child  was  more 
than  ever  dedicated  unto  the  Lord. 

"  Oh  how  thankful  should  I  be  !  My  babe,  I  trust,  will  not  be  raised 
for  nothing.  He  will  be  the  Lord's  !  Oh  my  gracious  God,  who  hast  so 
far  consented  to  our  prayers,  do  thou  crown  thy  mercy  by  sanctifying 
this  child  from  bis  infancy,  and  qualifying  him  by  thy  Spirit  for  being 
an  eminently  pious,  able,  useful,  humble  herald  of  thy  gospel.  Oh,  my 
precious  Saviour,  thy  goodness  to  me  is  overflowing  goodness  ;  my  be- 
loved son  George,  so  providentially  spared;  so  humbly  but  zealously  set 
apart  for  thy  special  service,  not  only  by  me,  but  seemingly  by  pious 
Mr.  Forrest  and  others ;  my  confidence  in  thy  protection  through  all  my 
trials,  all,  all  these  rich  mercies  of  my  covenant  God.  " 

When  the  child  was  a  little  more  than  two  years  old,  chas- 
tisement became  necessary,  which  was  attended  with  the 
same  spirit  of  prayer.     Sept.  2Y,  1807. 

"This  morning  I  had  to  use  the  rod  of  correction  very  severely,  on 
my  darling  George,  who  discovers  a  most  violent  temper.  And  now, 
oh  my  God!  enable  me  to  plead  for  my  George.     He  is  a  child  of 

EARLY     LIFE.  7 

Adam.  Bless  to  his  young  heart  the  rod  of  correction.  Oh,  my  God, 
my  God,  suffer  me  to  surrender  this  charge  to  tliee.  Oh,  undertake 
thou  for  me.  Subdue  thou  his  corruptions,  and  mouhl  hira  early,  even 
in  infancy  to  thy  will.  " 

The  same  fault  is  mentioned  in  the  fifth  year  of  his  age 
1809.  "  Grant  early  and  great  grace  to  our  dear  George, 
who  discovers  so  much  of  a  high  temper."  "Behold 
his  strong  corruptions  and  headstrong  manner.  Teach  him 
by  thy  grace,  and   oh,  teach  us  to  bring  him  up  for  thee." 

This  was  a  marked  feature  in  the  j^outh,  at  one  time 
leading  to  the  injury  of  a  young  companion,  when  his 
emotion  was  as  intense  in  penitence,  as  it  had  before  been  in 
wrath.  He  suffered  more  than  the  one  he  wounded,  and 
going  upon  his  knees  besought  forgiveness.  These  prayers 
run  on  in  the  same  spirit,  day  after  day,  and  year  after  year. 
It  would  have  been  strange  indeed,  it  would  have  argued 
against  the  truth  of  God's  promises,  if  such  faithful, 
loving  entreaty,  had  not  been  followed  by  a  great  and  abun- 
dant  blessing.  When  we  consider  the  future  greatness  of 
the  man,  we  must  recall  the  foundation  of  praj'er  on  which 
his  education  was  built. 

The  family  residence  at  this  time,  was  a  pleasant  villa  on 
the  banks  of  the  Hudson,  which  the  good  man  named  in  his 
Diary,  ''Mount  Ebenezer."  Dr.  Bethune  alludes  to  it  in 
later  years,  in  a  poem  to  his  mother  : 

I've  lived  through  foreign  lands  to  roam, 

And  gazed  on  many  a  classic  scene, 
Yet  would  the  thoughts  of  that  dear  home 

"Which  once  was  ours  oft  intervene, 
And  bid  me  close  again  my  weary  eye 
To  think  of  thee  and  those  sweet  days  gone  by. 

That  pleasant  home  of  fruits  and  flowers, 
Where  by  the  Hudson's  verdant  side 

8  MEMOm   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

My  sisters  wove  their  jasmine  bowers, 

And  he  we  loved,  at  eventide, 
"Would  hastening  come  from  distant  toil  to  bless 
Thine  and  his  children's  radiant  happiness. 

Alas  the  change  !  ihe  rattling  car 

On  flint  paved  streets  profanes  the  spot, 
Where  o'er  the  sod  we  sowed  the  Star 

Of  Bethlehem  and  Forget-me-not. 
Oh  I  woe  to  Mammon's  desolating  reign, 
We  ne'er  shall  find  on  earth  a  home  again ! 

Divie  Bethune  being  one  of  the  foremost  merchants  of 
the  city,  it  must  have  been  a  home  of  luxury  and  taste, 
and  being  prominent  in  every  scheme  of  Christian  benev- 
olence, it  must  have  been  the  constant  resort  of  the  great 
and  the  good  ;  there  too  were  found  distinguished  min- 
isters, well-known  missionaries  and  leaders  in  social 

**  Well  do  I  remember,"  says  one  who  was  afterwards  tenderly  asso- 
ciated with  the  subject  of  this  memoir,  "  our  gambols  on  the  green 
lawn  which  sloped  to  the  river,  and  the  glee  with  which  we  laved  our 
hands  in  the  grand  Hudson.  I  have  a  sweet  recollection  of  the  happy 
family,  the  genial  smile  with  which  I  was  welcomed  by  his  sainted 
father ;  kind  words  from  his  mother  and  sisters  as  we  admired  the  new 
roses,  and  heard  the  history  and  specialty  of  each.  She  had  named 
the  pleasant  home  '  Rose  Bank,'  from  its  great  variety  of  roses.  The 
English  cook  too,  who  had  come  into  the  family  when  George  was  a 
few  months  old,  and  the  Hindoo  servant*  who  had  been  found  by  Mr. 
Bethune,  stretched  on  his  master's  grave  to  die,  and  taken  home  to  live 
and  be  a  faithful  servant  for  forty  years,  all  ready  and  anxious  to  con- 
tribute to  my  happiness." 

In  the  large  hall  of  this  mansion  the  village  children 
assembled  for  Sabbath  instruction,  and  when  a  grand  occa- 

♦  Known  aftenvards  as  Richard. 

EARLY    LIFE.  9 

sion  offered,  as  for  instance  a  marriage,  the  orphans  were 
recipients  of  the  good  cheer. 

There  were  two  sisters,  the  elder,  Jessie,  married  Rev. 
Dr.  McCartee  of  New  York  ;  the  younger,  Isabella,  united 
to  Rev.  Dr.  Duffield  of  Detroit,  Mich,  both  of  them  gifted 
women,  who  with  their  brother,  were  early  taught  the 
practice  of  good  works.  He  was  a  Sunday  School  teacher 
at  the  age  of  thirteen. 

For  several  years  his  education  was  conducted  entirely 
by  his  mother,  who  as  we  have  seen,  was  a  teacher  of 
some  experience,  admirably  adapted  to  develop  the  gifts  of 
her  son.  To  this  maternal  care  he  was  indebted  for  many 
of  the  graces  which  adorned  his  future  career,  especially 
for  his  accomplishments  as  an  orator,  and  intimate  acquaint- 
ance with  English  Classics.  Instruction  was  commenced 
early  and  by  most  easy  and  natural  methods.  When  two 
years  old  his  letters  were  learned  from  the  walks  at  their 
villa,  his  mother  drawing  them  upon  the  gravel.  Gram- 
mar was  taught  by  chairs,  and  arithmetic  computed  by 
marbles  and  balls.  There  was  a  remarkable  development 
of  talent,  but  it  was  difficult  to  subject  to  discipline. 
Causality  was  early  prominent,  for  he  was  found  one  day 
struggling  with  the  old  cat,  to  bury  her  in  the  ground  that 
she  might  grow  kittens.  The  school  system  of  that  day 
was  but  little  adapted  to  his  disposition.  The  trial  was 
not  attempted  until  he  had  attained  some  years,  but 
upon  the  very  day  of  his  introduction  to  school,  seeing  a 
companion  who  received  undeserved  punishment,  he  could 
not  endure  the  wrong.  Young  as  he  was,  he  attacked  the 
teacher  and  w^as  summarily  dismissed  from  the  school. 
Later  he  was  placed  with  Dr.  Nelson,  the  blind  teacher, 
whose  severity  was  traditional  amongst  the  older  New 
York   families,   and   a   similar   cause  led   to   his   removal. 

10  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETIIUNE,    D.  D. 

When  reading  his  Latin  lesson,  for  every  mistake  in  which 
a  blow  might  be  expected,  he  became  so  enraged  that  he 
seized  the  rod  from  the  teacher's  hand  and  applied  it 
vigoronsly  to  his  shoulders.  Faulty  as  were  these  extrava- 
gances of  temper,  and  much  anxiety  as  they  must  have 
awakened  ;  yet,  it  is  to  be  observed,  that  it  was  this  same 
impetuous,  violent  disposition  which,  when  sanctified  by 
Divine  grace,  made  him  such  a  resolute  and  intrepid  de- 
fender of  righteousness. 

But  over  that  display  of  depravity  the  godly  father 
mourned,  and  it  was  the  occasion  of  new  and  more  earnest 
appeals  to  the  throne  of  grace  for  Divine  direction.  These 
entries  occur  in  his  diary 

Dec.  17,  1815. 
*'  My  dear  and  only  son  George  gives  me  much  uneasiness  from  his 
carelessness  and  seeming  indifference  to  religious  exercises. "  Feb.  4, 
1816.  "My  poor  young  and  only  son  George  continues  to  exhibit  a 
great  degree  of  insensibility.  Oh  Lord  have  mercy  upon  him.  His 
heart  is  hard  and  cold  to  religion.  With  man  it  is  impossible  to  heal 
him,  but  with  God  all  things  are  possible."  April  14,  1816.  *'I  am  now  at 
a  loss  to  whose  care  I  shall  commit  my  dear  son  George,  and  am  deeply 
exercised  respecting  his  spiritual  conviction.  Oh  Lord,  my  God,  thou 
seest  the  deep  and  pungent  exercises  of  my  soul  with  regard  to  my  be- 
loved son,  whom  thou  hast  given  me,  whose  life  thou  hast  preserved. 
What  shall  I  do  with  him  ?  To  whose  care  shall  I  commit  him  ?  I  feel 
helpless  as  an  infant  in  tbis  work.  Oh  God,  my  Saviour,  undertake  for 
me.  *  *  *  I  know  that  he  lies  at  mercy,  and  my  inmost  soul  rejoices 
that  he  lies  at  ihrj  mercy.  *  *  Make  him  thy  chosen  vessel  consecrated 
to  the  Gospel  Ministry.  Every  thing  now  seems  to  deny  this  hope,  yet 
I  would  commend  him  to  thee,  and  hope  against  hope."  May  19,  1816. 
Blessed  be  thy  name  for  giving  us  a  prospect  of  placing  him  with  thy 
servant,  Dr.  Proudfit.  I  trust  it  is  from  thee.  Oh  prepare  his  way  be- 
fore him. " 

Thus  light  dawned  upon  the   path,  the  youth  was  placed 

EARLY   LIFE.  11 

with  Rev.  Alex.  Proudfit,  D.  D.  of  Salem,  Washington  Co., 
N.  Y.,  pursuing  his  studies  at  the  Academy  under  the  care 
of  Rev.  Joel  Nott.  This  school  was  the  nursery  of  many 
ministers,  Drs.  Jas.  M.  Mathews,  Wm.  R.  Dewitt,  James 
Beattie,  John  Proudfit,  and  Messrs.  J.  B.  Steele,  and  William 
Williams  ;  most  of  them  older  than  Bethune.  It  is  feared 
that  he  did  not  advance  rapidly  in  study  at  this  place  ;  but 
there  were  great  advantages  attending  the  change.  He  was, 
at  a  most  impressible  age,  removed  from  the  temptations 
of  town  life,  and  brought  into  contact  with  the  simplicity 
of  country  manners.  His  physical  nature  was  strengthened 
by  manly  sports  of  horsemanship  and  angling.  Here  he 
made  acquaintance  with  Fisher  Billy.  Dr.  Prime  of  the 
Observer,  writes  :  — 

"  I  asked  Dr.  Bethune  where  he,  city  born  and  bred,  acquired  his  taste 
and  skill  in  fishing.  He  said '  that  when  a  boy,  at  the  Academy  in  Salem, 
Washington  County,  N.Y.,  he  fell  in  with  a  man  called  Tisher  Billy 
who  gave  him  lessons  and  showed  him  how.'  *  What,  Fisher  Billy 
from  Cambridge  ? '  I  asked,  with  some  surprise,  '  how  came  he  there  with 
you  ?  '  *  The  same  man,'  the  Dr.  replied ;  '  he  was  often  in  debt  and 
obliged  to  go  to  Salem  on  the  limits ;  but  the  limits  included  a  fine  trout 
stream,  and  there  he  practised  the  vocation  that  had  tempted  him  to  neg- 
lect his  business  and  lose  his  property.'" 

Here,  too,  was  cultivated  that  love  of  nature  which 
was  such  a  notable  feature  of  Dr.  Bethune,  amidst  some  of 
its  most  lovely  scenery,  whilst  gathering  wild  flowers  upon 
the  hills,  or  whipping  the  trout  streams  at  the  base  of  the 
Green  Mountains.  Neither  was  study  entirely  neglected. 
He  writes  playfully  to  his  mother ;  — 

♦'Dec.  1817. 
My  hat  is  a  little  too  large ;  howerer  if  I  stuff  a  little  more  Latin  and 
Greek  into  my  saphead,  I  shall  be  able  to  fill  it.    I  have  been  studying 
hard,  and  think  I  shall  be  able  to  enter  the  Sophomore  Class  of  Unioii 
College  in  the  Spring.  " 

12  MEMOIR   OF   GKO.    W.    BETHUXE,    D.  D. 

At  Salem,  was  formed  an  intimacy  with  Miss  Mary- 
Williams,  the  daughter  of  Colonel  Williams,  a  beautiful 
maiden  of  his  own  age,  which  afterwards  ripened  into  most 
devoted  affection,  an  affection  that  increased  with  advan- 
cing years,  which  was  the  joy  and  beauty  of  his  future  life, 
which  always  had  the  warmth  of  youthful  love  and  was  not 
chilled  even  by  death,  which,  sanctified  as  it  was,  will 
bloom  fair  and  sweet  in  the  morning  of  eternity.  When 
she  was  about  leaving  her  happy  home  for  boarding-school, 
it  was  his  part  to  cheer  up  her  first  great  grief  while  the 
stars  were  shining  in  the  sky,  and  with  his  merry  and  witty 
rhymes  change  the  sighs  of  regret  into  shouts  of  laughter. 
He  had  some  skill  in  music  and  often  amused  himself  with 
the  flute,  on  which  he  became  a  finished  performer,  beguiling 
away  the  hours  and  pains  of  sickness^  in  at  least  one 
instance, with  his  sweet  melodies.  He  was  quite  an  adept 
in  the  art  of  boxing,  an  exercise  for  which  to  the  day  of 
his  death  he  expressed  respect ;  which,  if  report  speaks 
truly,  was  again  called  into  exercise  in  behalf  of  injured 
innocence  in  the  person  of  his  young  companion,  John 
Williams,  who  suffered  from  the  imtable  temper  of  their 
tutor.  His  genial  nature  made  him  a  great  favorite  with 
the  young,  and  while  the  old  people  shook  their  heads  and 
called  him  the  mischievous  New  Yorker,  they  were  not  the 
less  charmed  with  his  humor,  and  many  enjoyed  the  benefits 
of  his  bounties  which  he  scattered  with  a  lavish  hand. 
Even  at  this  early  period  he  shone  as  a  member  of  a 
literary  club,  known  as  the  "  Washington  Adelphi  Society,'' 
and  in  the  youthful  gatherings  he  was  leader  of  the  fun  and 
frolic.  The  religious  atmosphere  of  the  place  was  not 
without  its  salutary  influence.  It  js  thus  noted  by  liis 
father :  -^ 

EARLY    LIFE.  13 

"Both  of  Dr.  Proudfit's  sons  are  under  serious  impressions.  My 
dear  son  seems  to  understand  much  of  tlie  system  of  truth,  with  a 
secret  hope  of  being  brought  to  its  saving  knowledge,  but  his  vivacity 
of  manner  and  activity  as  yet  prevent  the  hope  of  serious  convictions.  " 
Again,  "I  have  visited  my  son  much  to  my  satisfaction  in  Dr.  Proudfit's 
family.  I  trust  that  Jehovah,  who  mercifully  provided  such  a  situation 
for  my  beloved  son,  will  be  graciously  pleased  to  sanctify  it  to  him.  Oh 
may  he  live  consecrated  to  God.  " 

Thus  peacefully  and  with  much  profit  passed  two  of  the 
happiest  years  of  his  life,  when  he  was  called  to  New  York 
to  be  placed  under  a  tutor's  care  in  view  of  a  better  prepara- 
tion for  College.  In  this  prospect,  as  in  every  important 
change,  the  pious  father  was  diligent  in  seeking  divine  di- 
rection. At  Salem  young  Bethune  had  formed  a  close 
friendship  with  William  Williams,  a  little  older  than  himself, 
"a  truly  pious  boy,  humble  minded,  intelligent  and  pleasant 
in  his  deportment,  exercised  in  faith  and  unto  godliness.'' 
The  two  young  men  were  "  like  David  and  Jonathan."  This 
latter  was  now  invited  to  enter  Mr.  Bethune's  family, 
doubtless  with  the  purpose  of  improvement  from  his  reli- 
gious influence,  and  shortly  after  the  father  rejoices  ''  that 
his  dear  son  is  at  home  with  us,  blessed  with  a  pious  youth 
for  his  companion  and  satisfied  with  him,  both  studying 
closely  under  a  pious  tutor,"  and  was  deeply  impressed 
with  the  responsibility  and  honor  of  training  these  young 
men  for  the  Lord's  service.  In  the  days  of  his  son's  great- 
est insensibility  this  purpose  of  the  man  of  faith  never 
faltered.  When  George  was  fourteen  years  of  age  they  en- 
tered Columbia  College,  N.  Y.,  in  the  fall  of  1819.  In  the  rou- 
tine of  academical  studies  he  attracted  no  special  interest. 
He  held  a  moderate  position,  neither  rising  high  in  the  scale 
of  merit  nor  falling  belov/  respectability  ;  but,  as  before,  he 
was  distinguished  in  all  the  exhibitions  of  eloquence,   and 

14:  MEMOIR  OF  GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

was  an  ornament  of  the  Philolexian  Society.     Upon  leaving 
college  his  friends  wrote  : 

"  Your  society  will  be  mourning  your  loss  in  dust  and  aslies. "  "The 
exhibition  (of  the  Society)  was  superior,  but  this  did  not  happen  with- 
out forcibly  reminding  me  of  my  good  old  crony  George,  who  afforded 
me  so  much  pleasure  in  the  recitation  of  the  'Prisoner  of  Chillon,' 
nor  was  I  the  only  one  in  whom  it  excited  the  recollection  of  past  pleas- 
ure. Many  were  heard  to  say,  *  Do  you  recollect  how  well  George 
recited. ' " 

Here  was  exerted  that  peculiar  influence  over  his  young 
companions;  which  in  after  years  was  described  as  a  magical 
charm  that  he  possessed  of  attaching  others  to  himself. 
Perhaps  a  friend  of  his  youth  (Dr.  Smith  Pyne,  of  AVash- 
ington,  D.  C,)  has  given  the  explanation  of  this  power  : 

"  I  sympathize  sincerely  in  your  happiness,  but  my  very  dear  friend, 
I  think  it  is  hardly  possible  for  you  to  be  unhappy  anywhere.  The 
strength  of  your  understanding,  and  the  buoyancy  of  your  spirits  fortify 
you  against  all  the  lesser,  but  most  annoying  ills  of  life,  and  you  have 
that  open-heartedness  and  fascination  of  manner,  which  must  make 
friends  for  you  wherever  you  may  be.  I  do  not  believe,  George,  I  ever 
met  with  a  person  whose  countenance  was  so  perfect  an  index  of  his 
feelings  as  yourself,  and  the  quality  which  I  love  you  most  for,  is  that 
blunt  honesty  with  which  you  will  tell  a  friend  his  faults,  and  the  single- 
heartedness  and  affectionate  pleasure  with  which  you  praise  his  good 
qualities. " 

His  humor  and  love  of  sport  led  him  to  practise  on  the 
dullness  of  a  classmate  who  requested  aid  in  the  preparation 
of  essays,  by  inditing  the  most  extravagant  and  pedantic 
papers  which  the  young  gentleman  would  recite  with  all  the 
sobriety  of  a  Nestor,  to  the  great  amusement  of  all  the 
college  except  the  victim.  In  fact  the  life  of  young  Be- 
thune  at  this  time  was  a  joyous,  rollicking  one.  Songs  were 
continually   upon  his    lips,  smiles  beamed  on  his  face  and 

EARLY   LIFE,  15 

play  and  fun  occupied  his  whole  heart.  Another  of 
his  amusements  at  this  period,  which  absorbed  much  of  his 
time,  was  the  game  of  billiards.  An  early  acquaintance, 
who  was  requested  to  furnish  materials  for  this  memoi)-, 
said,  "  I  was  only  intimate  with  him  during'  his  college  daj^s, 
and  my  associations  are  not  such  as  you  would  care  to  put 
in  the  record  of  a  gospel  minister.''  Another  classmate  thus 
recalls  old  memories  : 

"  At  one  time,  I  imagine  myself  in  the  windo\7-seats  of  Columbia  Col- 
lege cracking  jokes  with  my  old  crony  George,  and  I  almost  answer  to 

the  imaginary  voice  of  old ,  *  Mr.  Bethune  and  Mr. you  are 

continually  diverting  my  attention ; '  at  another  time  I  detect  myself  in 
the  act  of  beating  my  own  sides  under  the  impression  that  I  am  the 
black  stud's  back,  and  endeavouring  to  cast  the  dust  of  the  avenue  in 

the  eyes  of  C 's  mare.     Then  again  I  well  imagine  that  I  am  in  the 

Society  room,  listening  with  deep  attention  to  j'our  eloquence,  or  my 
lively  imagination  carries  me  forth  to  the  cricket  ground,  where  I  view 
your  weighty  corpus  in  the  fruitless  contests  for  superiority  of  agility 
with  the  shadowy  form  of  J.  Y.  and  there  also  I  hear  your  expostu- 
lations with  old  Turvey  for  the  extravagant  price  and  base  qualities  of 
his  beer. " 

The  same  friend  gives  him  a  full  account  of  the  Long 
Island  races  and  bets  which  he  and  other  friends  had 
made,  and  assumes  that  they  both  will  be  equally  inter- 
ested in  the  success  of  the  great  "  Eclipse."  But  while 
thus  occupied  in  a  career  of  gayety  and  worldliness,  it  is 
not  to  be  supposed  that  he  sank  into  any  of  the  baser  forms 
of  dissipation  ;  he  was  frolicsome  and  this  led  him  into 
mischief;  he  was  impetuous  and  this  caused  many  quarrels  ; 
but  he  was  alwa3^s  devoted  to  refined  female  society,  and 
this,  combined  with  the  sanctified  influences  of  home,  pre- 
served him  from  the  haunts  of  vice.  A  companion  who  was 
with  him  on  an  excursion,  which  had  much  of  extravagance, 

IG  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

says,  that  he  reminded  Dr.  B.  of  it  in  after  life,  when  he  re- 
plied, "  I  remember  it  well  and  have  deeply  repented  of 
it;  from  that  text  I  have  preached  fifty  sermons.''  As 
this  made  so  deep  an  impression,  we  conclnde  that  such  oc- 
casions could  not  have  been  frequent  even  in  his  wild  days. 
About  this  period,  while  engaged  in  cricket  play  upon  the 
battery,  his  leg  was  dislocated  by  a  young  companion.  With 
much  self  command  he  desired  his  friends  to  send  for  Dr. 
Post,  an  eminent  surgeon.  The  Doctor  ordered  the  at- 
tendants to  pull  off  the  boot,  the  operation  being  painful, 
the  youth  cried,  "Gut  the  boot,'-  when  the  Doctor  inter- 
fered, saying,  "  Young  man,  when  you  earn  the  money  to 
pay  for  boots,  you  may  order  them  to  be  cut  to  pieces." — 
The  good  doctor's  design  was  quickly  evident,  for  in  the 
hard  pull  upon  the  member  it  had  been  restored  to  its  nor- 
mal condition.  This  accident  was  the  cause  of  a  long  and 
trying  confinement,  during  which  numerous  friends  came 
to  visit  him,  among  whom  was  the  eloquent  and  saintly 
Methodist  preacher,  Summerfield,  who  had  just  commenced 
his  ministry  in  New  York.  He  talked  seriously,  although 
he  said,  the  conversation  of  gay  companions  was  now 
more  acceptable  ;  yet  he  felt  sure  that  some  day  Bethune 
would  not  only  delight  in  religion,  but  that  he  (Mr.  S.) 
would  hear  him  proclaim  the  Saviour's  love  with  power  to 
dying  sinners.  This  hope  was  realized,  for  although  it 
pleased  the  Lord  to  remove  this  good  man  from  his  labors 
before  the  youth  had  finished  his  theological  studies,  still 
Summerfield  was  privileged  to  hear  him  urge  the  cause  of 
missions,  pleading  for  the  love  of  Jesus.  At  last  he  was  re- 
stored to  his  full  powers,  but  alas  !  neither  the  trying  prov- 
idence, nor  all  the  pious  addresses,  nor  the  frequent  prayers 
made  in  his  behalf  had  produced  any  marked  effect ;  he  rose 

EAELY   LIFE.  17 

from  his  sick  bed  the  same  careless  worldly  youth  ;  not  that 
he  was  entirely  destitute  of  religious  impressions,  such  could 
scarcely  be  the  case,  considering  the  pious  surroundings  of 
his  home.  His  father,  who  watched  anxiously  every  hope- 
ful sign,  thus  wrote  in  his  diary : 

"  My  dear  George  is  now  singing  hymns.  I  hear  his  dear  voice ;  it  is 
a  pleasant  sound.  0 !  my  God,  put  life  in  his  soul  that  there  may  bo 
life  in  his  praise.  " 

Again:  "Read  with  George  and  Williams  three  verses  alternately, 
making  afterwards  suitable  remarks,  partly  offered  by  myself,  and  partly 
elicited  from  them  by  the  eighth  chapter  of  Mark.  I  thought  George 
appeared  raised  to  more  spiritual  concern  in  the  discussion  of  this  im- 
portant chapter  than  I  have  seen  him  for  a  long  time." 

But  whatever  signs  of  good  there  might  have  been,  this 
was  a  period  of  deepest  solicitude  to  the  godly  parent,  and 
most  earnestly  did  he  betake  himself  to  the  throne  of  grace. 

*'  Lord,  bless  my  son.  Thou  seest  how  very  cold  and  careless  he  is. 
Lord,  do  in  this  matter  as  in  other  things ;  when  thou  hast  shown  me  my 
utter  inefficiency  towards  effecting  any  good  work  in  him,  do  thou  be 
pleased  to  step  in  with  majesty  and  grace  to  make  him  willing  in  the  day 
of  thy  power."  "Yesterday  was  the  birthday  of  our  beloved  son,  on 
which  he  completed  his  fifteenth  year.  Blessed,  ever  blessed  be  my 
God,  who  hath  preserved  him  so  long  to  his  fond  parents.  Oil  make  his 
whole  soul  one  flame  of  fire  to  Thee  —  his  whole  life  a  hymn  of  praise 
to  Thee.  Hasten  it  in  its  time.  Oh,  Lord  God,  strengthen  my  faith  to 
wait  for  it ;  believing  that  though  it  tarry,  I  shall  wait  for  it  because  it 
will  surely  come ;  it  will  not  tarry ;  the  just  shall  live  by  faith.  " 

What  strong,  persevering  faith  was  that  which  believed 
when  appearances  were  so  dark,  and  could  hopefully  say, 
"  I  seem  to  feel  as  if  the  conversion  of  our  dear  son  George 
would  be  given  to  us.'^  Neither  was  it  all  faith,  but  he 
joined  works  to  faith.  It  has  been  noted  with  how  much 

18  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

care  he  selected  his  school  and  tutor,  sought  out  for  him 
companions,  supplied  him  with  suitable  religious  books,  di- 
rected him  to  such  preaching  and  places  as  were  specially 
favored  by  the  Holy  Ghost,  and  neither  of  his  parents  wearied 
in  personal  addresses  on  the  subject.  The  following  ex- 
tract is  a  specimen  of  their  soul-stirring  appeals  : 

"  Can  I  be  easy,  my  beloved  George,  until  I  see  you  escaped  from  the 
snares  of  Satan,  and  delivered  from  the  inward  dominion  of  sin,  the 
agent  of  Satan  in  the  hearts  of  men.  You  have  only  to  pray  fervently 
to  God  for  his  Holy  Spirit,  and  confessing  your  weakness,  your  ignorance 
and  your  danger,  to  cast  yourself  on  the  covenant  mercy  of  God,  en- 
sured by  his  precious  promises  to  them  who  ask  the  one  and  plead  the 
other  with  sincerity  of  heart.  Now,  my  dear  George,  retire  to  your  room 
and  pour  out  your  heart  before  God,  and  examine  the  Scriptures,  and 
plead  the  promises  Avhich  I  have  set  down  for  you ;  here  are  some  texts 
marked.  "Were  you  to  die  in  your  present  state,  or  to  continue  thought- 
lessly in  sin,  until  your  heart  became  hardened  through  the  deceitfulness 
of  sin ;  alas  !  how  awful  would  your  end  and  your  eternity  be,  and  how 
heart-rending  the  affliction  of  your  dear  mother  and  myself  for  the  eter- 
nal ruin  of  our  only  and  dear  son.  My  dear  son,  no  other  good  is  worth 
pursuing,  until  you  have  secured  the  chief  good,  and  having  once  ob- 
tained the  favour  of  God  and  the  hope  of  eternal  life,  you  could  then 
pursue  all  other  studies  with  cheerfulness,  diligence  and  effect.  You 
will  therefore  allow  the  love  of  a  father  to  be  importunate  for  the  welfare 
of  a  dear  son,  and  as  you  love  me  who  love  you  so  truly,  I  lay  it  upon 
you  to  think  seriously  on  the  subject,  to  occupy  your  mind  with  truth, 
and  to  devote  a  part  of  every  day  in  retirement,  to  supplicate  the  bless- 
ing of  God  on  your  soul  and  your  life." 

During  his  youth  he  was  subject  to  several  attacks  of  sick- 
ness, often  assuming  a  character  of  much  severity.  Al- 
though surrounded  with  so  many  good  influences,  addressed 
by  so  many  tender  appeals,  warned  by  God's  providences, 
Satan  still  had  the  mastery ;  the  hard,  natural  heart  resisted 
the  means  of  grace,  and  George  remained  a  worldling. 




The  mode  of  life  we  have  described  could  not  have  been 
pleasing  to  godly  parents  and  the  position  is  thus  given  : 

*'My  soul  is  afflicted  by  the  thoughtless  state  of  my  dear  son's  mind. 
He  has  a  hurried  order  of  spirit  which  impels  him  to  pursue  with  eager- 
ness any  object  that  suddenly  gains  his  attention.  At  college  he  is 
exposed  to  companions  and  conversation  unsuitable  to  the  general  tenor 
of  my  instructions  to  him.  The  young  men  rouse  liis  pride  and  his  jeal- 
ousy by  accounts  of  routs  and  plays  and  parties,  and  now  before  liis 
education  is  finished,  he  is  thirsting  for  enjoyments,  which,  by  anticipat- 
ing, he  may  never  be  able  comfortably  to  possess.  "Whilst  his  heart  is 
diverted  from  a  love  of  religious  duties  and  hardening  against  self-deny- 
ing courses,  whilst  his  deadness  to  spiritual  tilings  gives  no  sign  of  liis 
becoming  a  minister  of  the  gospel;  his  indolent,  gay  disposition,  if  indul- 
ged, will  unfit  him  for  those  business  habits  so  essential  to  a  commercial 
life.     My  soul  is  sometimes  harrowed  Avitliin  me." 

At  another  time  we  read  :  —  *'  Almighty  God,  I  would  now  come  before 
thee,  and  ask  wisdom  as  to  the  course  of  conduct  I  should  pursue  with 
respect  to  my  son.  He  is  of  an  impetuous,  assimilating  temper,  and 
much  exposed  to  temptations  at  the  college,  with  so  many  thoughtless 
companions,  and  no  adequate  benefit  derived  from  the  risk.  He  is  in 
the  way  of  idle,  speculative  views  and  habits,  and  is  now  getting  a  relish 
for  company.  He  will  be  learning  to  spend  largely,  without  being  at  all 
fitted  to  make  anything.  Would  it  not  be  better  to  place  him  at  once 
with  a  merchant  to  learn  liis  business,  and  to  acquire  habits  of  industry 
and  diligence,  as  well  as  skill  of  goods  ?  I  beseech  thee,  oh  my  heavenly 
Father,  to  instruct  and  direct  me  in  this  important  movement ;  teach  me 
in  this  trying  situation  of  my  poor  son." 

20  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

He  was  now  seventeen  years  old.  lo  was  indeed  a  lijie  for 
the  deepest  parental  solicitude.  Were  all  those  hopes  of  minis- 
terial usefuhiess  to  be  blasted  ?  were  all  those  consecrations,  aU 
those  prayers  and  all  those  entreaties  to  be  worthless  ?  was 
that  father  to  sit  still  and  see  his  son  laboring  and  toiling  under 
the  horrible  yoke  of  the  infernal  one  and  wretchedly  choosing 
the  things  of  this  world  through  the  dominion  of  sin  and  un- 
belief in  his  soul  ?  It  could  not  be !  And  now  light  arose  in 
the  darkness,  Christian  prudence  demanded  that  these  asso- 
ciations which,  though  not  sinful,  were  unfavorable  to  piety, 
should  be  sundered,  and  a  most  inviting  prospect  opened 
before  them. 

Rev.  Dr.  John  M.  Mason,  a  ripe  scholar  and  the  most  elo- 
quent pulpit  orator  of  his  country,  and  perhaps  of  his  age^ 
had  been  called  to  preside  over  Dickinson  College  at  Car- 
lisle, Pa.  The  ficulty  was  small,  but  could  scarcely  have 
been  more  perfect,  consisting  of  Prof.  Vethake,  a  thorough 
mathematician,  and  Dr.  Alexander  McClelland,  who  as  an 
educator  of  youth  was  without  a  parallel.  This  institution 
so  admirably  furnished,  presented  great  attractions  to  the 
young  and  opened  a  door  of  hope  to  the  praying  father. 
Dr.  Mason  had  long  been  a  pastor  and  friend  of  Mr.  Bethune's 
family,  and  Mr.  Duffield,  the  son-in-law,  was  now  pastor  of 
the  Presbyterian  Church  at  Carlisle.  In  September  1822, 
young  Bethune  and  his  companion  Williams,  entered  this 
college  to  complete  the  studies  of  the  senior  year,  a  change 
which  in  the  providence  of  God  proved  of  the  greatest  im- 
portance to  his  eternal  Vv'elfare.  Directly  after  his  arrival, 
we  find  him  speaking  of  the  change  with  gratification.  The 
professors  at  Columbia  College  were  not  popular  with  stu- 
dents, and  we  conclude  that  there  had  been  quite  an  exodus 
from  his  class,  part  going  to  Carlisle  and  others  to  Yale.  We 
find  him  writing  of  his  new  associations  with  pleasure,  and 

TURNING    TO   GOD.  21 

giving  the  liighest  praise  to  Dr.  McClelland  and  his  lectures. 
Of  Dr.  Mason,  however,  he  says  :  "  I  was  too  young  to  know 
him  in  his  palmy  days  of  strength  and  power.  I  did  not 
come  closely  under  his  influence  until  1822,  which  was  some 
years  after  the  shock  which  affected  irreparably  his  mighty 
intellect:"  although  he  speaks  of  Dr.  Mason's  "profound 
and  elegant  erudition,"  displayed  in  "  his  Comments  on  the 
Art  of  Poetry,  by  Horace,  and  the  Treatise  on  the  Sublime, 
by  Longinus."  We  have  no  account  of  his  standing  at  col- 
lege, although  we  find  him  at  once  engaged  in  the  Belles 
Lettres  Society.  At  this  time  his  father  wrote  to  him  as  to 
a  warm  fiiend  of  Summerfield,  who  would  take  an  interest  in 
his  health  which  was  now  rapidly  failing,  and  speaks  of  young 
Willett  who  was  one  of  Summerfield's  converts  and  a  great 
delight  to  his  heart,  seeing  that,  when  he  was  dead,  Willett 
could  preach.  He  takes  occasion  to  excite  his  pride  in  sus- 
taining the  credit  of  the  college  ;  hinting  that  there  had 
been  disorders  of  late  and  that  this  report  had  done  much 
harm  to  its  prospects.  He  concludes  with  an  appeal  on 
the  great    topic: 

"  I  left  you  with  strong  emotions.  Oh,  that  I  could  see  you  safe  ■R'itliin 
the  covenant.  The  eternal  God  is  thy  refuge.  Can  you  choose  a  better  ? 
The  contest  is  for  heaven.  You  must  begin  the  inward  conflict,  the 
battle  with  yourself,  sooner  or  later,  or  your  soul  is  lost  forever ! ! ! 
Begin  at  once.  Ask  the  Lord  for  a  new  heart.  Be  not  cheated  out  of 
your  soul  by  a  thoughtless  impetuosity  that  gives  way  to  outward  temp- 
tations. Rouse,  my  son,  and  put  a  heavenly  courage  on.  A  crown  of 
glory  is  the  prize.  Eternity  against  Time,  holiness  against  pollution. 
Linger  not,  the  Lord  calls.     Let  your  soul  obey." 

He  had  been  located  at  Carlisle  only  a  little  more  than  a 
month  when  God  visited  the  college  in  a  very  solemn  man- 
ner by  the  death  of  one  of  their  young  companions,  James  H. 
Mason,  the  son  of  the  President,  and  a  very  promising  young 

22  MEMOIR    OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

man  of  great  piety  of  character,  who  was  carried  off  by  typhus 
fever.    The  family  were  already  in  mourning  from  the  recent 
death  of  his  sister,  Mrs.  Yan  Yechten,  and  this  second  blow 
brought  desolation  indeed.    Dr.  Mason  entertained  a  strong 
j^rejudice  against  funeral  services,  on  the  ground  that  they 
were  apt  to  become  occasions  for  eulogizing  the  dead.  Upon 
this  occasion,  Mr.  IMcCartee,  who  for  the  time  supplied  the 
pulpit  of  Mr.  Duffield,  was  requested  to  beg  that  an  address 
should  be  made  at  the  grave  for  the  sake  of  the  young  men 
in  the  College.     He  did  so.    Dr.  Mason  replied,  "  No,  these 
things  are  so  often  abused."     As  the  young  men  who  served 
as  pall-bearers  lifted  the  coffin,  the  afflicted  father  exclaimed 
in  solemn  tones,  v/hich  those  who  were  present  can  never 
forget,  "  Young  men,  tread  lightly!  ye  bear  a  temple  of  the 
Holy  Ghost,"  then  overcome  by  his  feelings,   he  dropped 
his  head  upon  his  friend's  shoulder  and  said,  "  Dear  McCartee, 
say  something  which  God  may  bless  to  his  young  friends." 
The  scene  in  the  graveyard  is  described  as  one  of  deep  im- 
pressiveness.    There  was  the  grand  old  patriarch  bowed  to  the 
ground  under  the  weight  of  sorrow,  with  the  youth  of  the  col- 
lege who  felt  that  a  brother  had  been  stricken,  and  round 
about  were   mourning  relatives  and  sympathizing   towns- 
people.  Mr.  McCartee,  who  had  a  warm  heart  and  whom  sud- 
den emotion  would  often   raise  to   the  highest  eloquence, 
spoke  as  if  by  inspiration  a  lesson  suited  to  the  occasion  ; 
many  people  remarked  that   they  had  never  seen    such  a 
graveyard,  and  all  seemed  in  tears  and  many  in  agony.     Tlie 
address  was  wonderfully  blessed  of  God.      A  revival  power- 
ful and  precious  in  its  fruits  began  in  the  college  and  town. 
In  this  revival  young  Bethune,  had  a  share,  but  it  may  be 
imagined  that  such  a  strong  and  earnest  nature  as  his  would 
not  j^ield  without  a  struggle.     While  vice  had  not  posses- 
sion of  him,  yet  the  claims  of  pride  and  affection  bound  him 

TURNING   TO   GOD.  23 

to  the  world  and  he  had  undergone  a  hardening  process, 
when  resisting  for  years  all  the  calls  of  Divine  grace.  Sel- 
dom had  a  young  man  been  so  surrounded  with  holy  influ- 
ences or  resisted  so  many  loving  entreaties.  Aware  that 
from  his  earliest  infancy  he  had  been  dedicated  to  the  Lord, 
early  taught  to  pray  and  love  Jesus  ;  on  every  proper  occa- 
sion addressed  upon  the  subject  by  father  and  mother ;  taken 
to  hear  the  most  eloquent  preachers,  addressed  privately  by 
Summerfield,  Ward,  young  Edward  Kirk,  and  others;  again 
and  again  laid  upon  the  bed  of  sickness,  to  give  space  for  re- 
flection ;  yet  he  had  been  able  to  resist  all  the  strivings  of  the 
spirit,  and  although  young  in  years,  yet  by  custom  he  had  be- 
come very  hardened  in  his  heart,  and  it  was  not  without  a 
fierce  contest  that  the  rebellious  nature  could  be  conquered 
even  by  the  Saviour's  love.  But  the  history  of  an  event  so 
important  in  our  memoir  can  be  best  gathered  from  anxious 
eye  witnesses,  Mrs.  Bethune  and  Mr.  Duffield  : 

"  Our  dear  son,"  says  his  mother,  "had  been  three  years  at  Columbia 
College,  N.  Y.  We  placed  him  there,  because  he  could  still  reside  under 
the  parental  roof,  and  be  under  our  oAm  eye ;  that  he  might  have  a  suit- 
able companion,  we  educated  a  young  man  -vrith  him,  and  we  fondly 
hoped  that  the  Lord  would  accept  the  dedication  of  our  son,  which  we 
had  made  to  him  in  baptism,  and  fit  him  to  serve  him  in  the  gospel  minis- 
try. Every  afiiiction  He  visited  him  with,  (and  he  has  been  often  laid  on 
the  bed  of  sickness,)  we  hoped  was  the  means  to  bring  him  home  to  him- 
self, and  although  he  often  seemed  serious  and  alarmed  at  the  thoughts 
of  death,  yet  whenever  he  got  well  he  became  as  thoughtless  as  ever. 
"When  the  college  at  Carlisle  Avas  revived,  and  our  dear  friend.  Dr. 
Mason  became  its  principal,  our  son  and  several  other  students  of  Colum- 
bia College  became  anxious  to  spend  their  last  year  of  study  under  his 
care.  "We  felt  almost  afraid  to  part  with  our  son,  yet  seeing  his  grea« 
desire  to  go,  and  knowing  that  he  would  be  under  the  kind  and  watchful 
eye  of  his  dear  brother  Duffield,  Ave  consented.  Little  did  we  think  of 
the  blessing  God  was  preparing  for  us  in  his  providence,  by  directing  the 
dear  youth  to  this  step.    He  entered  upon  study  in  September,  1822.    I 

24  MEMOIR    OF   GEO.    AV.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

followed  in  October,  and  Mr.  Mc  Cartee  arrived  in  Carlisle  on  the  fifteenth 
of  November,  when  James  Hall  Mason,  son  of  our  dear  friends  Dr.  and 
Mrs.  Mason,  lay  at  the  point  of  death  in  a  bilious  fever.  Mr.  Duffield, 
being  obliged  to  administer  the  communion  to  a  vacant  congregation,  was 
necessarily  absent.  Mr.  Mc  Cartee  providentially  arrived  to  administer 
consolation  to  our  aflBicted  friends.  James  was  delirious  during  the 
whole  of  his  illness,  but  his  conversation,  although  incoherent,  showed 
that  his  mind  dwelt  on  serious  tilings.  To  Mr.  Duffield,  who  sat  up 
with  him  one  night,  he  said,  '  If  you  knew  what  a  sinner  I  have  been,  you 
would  not  be  so  kind  to  me.  I  once  thought  that  I  had  experienced  the 
love  of  God  shed  abroad  in  my  heart,  and  endeavoured  to  walk  in  the 
right  way,  but  when  I  became  a  professor,  I  thought  I  must  be  a  gentle- 
man, and  turned  aside  from  the  right  way.'  The  morning  of  his  death 
reason  seemed  to  return,  he  knew  those  around  him  and  uttered  plainly 
these  words,  '  My  son  give  me  thy  heart.'  He  departed  about  one,  P.  M., 
Saturday,  the  16th.  Mr.  McCartee  did  not  come  out  to  dinner,  and  ray 
son  George,  who  never  would  believe  that  James  would  die,  was  fretting 
and  fuming  because  he  could  not  get  his  dinner  and  go  out  riding  on 
horseback.  I  was  shocked  at  his  seeming  indifference,  and  told  him  I 
was  sure  that  James  was  dying,  and  that  was  what  detained  Mr.  Mc  Cartee. 
He  ate  his  dinner  and  started  for  town.  I  went  to  my  knees  to  plead  for 
my  poor  boy,  begging  the  Lord,  for  his  name's  sake,  to  have  compassion 
on  the  poor  youth  whom  nothing  seemed  to  affect.  I  felt  wretched,  and 
said  to  his  sister,  that  I  deeply  regretted  we  had  let  him  come  to  Carlisle, 
he  showed  such  violence  of  temper,  and  so  much  self-sufficiency  that  I 
trembled  for  the  time  when  I  should  leave  him  from  under  parental 
authority.  '  Lord  help  me,'  was  my  cry.  I  had  no  comfort  but  trusting 
in  a  sovereign  God.  The  youth  seemed  to  scorn  my  advice,  and  would 
none  of  my  reproof.  God  only  could  change  his  heart.  I  often  told  him 
that  I  never  expected  to  see  him  curb  his  temper,  till  he  began  to  pray. 
He  seemed  sorry  after  he  had  been  in  a  passion,  but  for  the  merest  trifle 
would  again  give  way  to  his  temper.  When  he  returned  in  the  evening, 
I  asked  him  *  What  he  thought  of  himself,  to  be  so  concerned  about  his 
dinner,  when  his  friend  was  passing  from  time  to  eternity  ? '  He  said 
*  Oh  mother,  don't  talk  about  dinner,  when  poor  James  Mason  is  dead.' 
I  endeavoured  to  improve  this  dispensation  to  him.  He  seemed  to  feel 
deeply ;  but  it  was  only  liis  sorrow  for  liis  friend  that  made  him  weep." 

We  continue  the  narrative  as  given  by  Mr.  Duffield : 

TUHNlIsG    TO    GOD.  25 

"The  solemn  scene  at  the  interment  of  IMr.  Duncan  left  upon  the 
minds  of  many  an  apparently  greater  seriousness  and  attention  to  the 
means  of  grace  than  had  tcfore  been  observed.  The  communion  season 
which  followed  was  unusually  solemn.  Several  of  the  young  men  in  the 
college  were  very  deeply  impressed  by  the  services  of  that  day,  and 
one  or  two  sought  for  Christian  instruction.  The  death  of  poor  James 
Mason  struck  a  peculiar  awe  upon  the  youth  in  college.  Brother  Me  Car- 
tee's  address  at  the  grave  was  remarkably  owned,  and  the  hearts  of  many 
quaked  at  the  thought  of  death.  On  the  following  Tuesday,  eight  of  the 
students  met  with  us  under  deep  and  anxious  concern  about  the  state  of 
their  soul-i.  The  number  Avas  increased  to  fourteen  on  Thursday  after, 
of  every  one  of  whom  we  now  entertain  hopes.  There  are  yet  four  or  five 
more,  deeply  impressed,  knov>m  to  be  so,  but  hoAv  many  more  it  is  impos- 
sible to  conjecture.  The  church  was  crowded  yesterday,  and  the  audience 
as  solemn  as  the  grave.  I  never  saw  in  any  place  such  deep  and  fixed 
attention,  and  such  evident  struggling  with  feeling.  What  may  be  the 
present  extent  of  the  impression  we  know  not,  but  that  it  is  not  conSned 
to  the  college,  the  appearance  of  the  congregation  yesterday  showed.  I 
have  no  doubt  that  the  Lord  has  commenced  a  good  and  gracious  work 
among  us,  which  will  only  be  stopped  by  the  unbelief  and  stumbling  stocks 
which  Christian  professors  may  cast  in  the  way. 

The  change  in  my  dear  brother  George  has  filled  our  house  with  songs 
of  triumpli  and  praise.  I  know  how  anxiously  you  watched  and  prayed 
for  him,  so  that  anytliing  relative  to  the  great  change  will  be  peculiarly 
interesting.  The  Lord  is  a  Sovereign,  and  he  acts  in  such  a  sovereign 
manner,  as  to  laugh  all  our  wisdom  to  scorn.  I  tliink  you  will  feel  as 
we  all  do,  that  He  was  determined  to  let  us  see  that  it  was  only  and  alto- 
gether His  own  work.  On  Monday  last,  it  was  whispered  among  the  pious 
students  that  there  were  several  of  their  fellow  collcgiates  distressed  in 
their  minds.  On  Tuesday,  an  invitation  was  given  to  brother  McC.  and 
myself  to  meet  with  them.  George  heard  of  it  that  day,  and  that  Mr. 
Codwise  was  among  the  number  of  inquirers.  He  wrote  a  note  to  him, 
desiring  him  to  come  out  here,  but  received  a  reply  that  he  could  not 
in  consequence  of  the  perturljed  state  of  his  mind.  Vic  met  that  even- 
ing and  found  that  dear  youth  among  the  number  and  most  deeply  af- 
fected. Samuel  McCoskiy  also  was  there,  but  he  had  obtained  a  hope. 
All  George's  friends  were  cither  there  or  reported  to  be  deeply  impressed. 
On  our  return  home  we  bcr^an  to  state  that  wc  had  seen  some  of  the 

26  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    AV.    EETIIUXE,    D.  D. 

young  men,  and  detailed  their  exercises,  i^articularly  of  Codwise  arA 
McCoskry,  and  afterwards  had  family  worship;  when  brother  McC;, 
Vv'illiam,  and  myself  left  the  chamber  for  tiie  parlor.  *"IIis  mother  writes, 
*I  felt  confounded.  I  ought  to  have  rejoiced,  but  I  could  not.  I-ly 
eon  is  not  amongst  them,'  burst  from  my  lips  ; '  nothing  seems  to  affect  him/ 

"  I  asked  him,"  says  Mr.  Dufndd,  "if  he  had  heard  that  so  many  of  his 
young  friends  Avere  inquiring.  He  seemed  surprised,  and  got  almost 
angry,  said.  How  could  it  be?  lie  had  seen  them  witliin  a  day  or  two, 
and  they  were  not  serious  then.  I  told  him  God  was  not  lil^e  man. 
lie  could  convince  and  convert  in  a  short  time.  His  great  concern  was, 
lest  his  dear  friends  should  not  know  what  they  were  doing,  and  by  and 
by  when  the  impression  wore  off,  they  would  be  branded  as  backsliders. 
He  left  his  sister's  room,  and  coming  down  to  the  pa,rlour,  walked  in  great 
agitation,  accusing  us  of  being  instrumental  in  promoting  religious  cal- 
umny, of  endangering  the  reputation  of  his  friends,  and  manifested  great 
warmth  and  violence  of  feeling.  The  first  thing  tliat  was  said,  which  ax>- 
peared  to  .calm  him  was,  tha.t  we  were  as  tenacious  of  the  reputation  of 
Codwise  as  he  was,  and  loved  him  dearly.  He  then  stated  more  calmly 
his  own  opinion  upon  the  nature  of  their  excited  feelings,  and  said  ho 
thought  it  strange  that  a  change  should  have  taken  place  in  his  friends 
and  he  not  know  it ;  that  it  should  be  done  so  speedily,  and  that  they 
should  not  acquaint  him  with  it,  from  Avhom  they  had  never  concealed 
anything.  He  protested  however,  that  he  could  not  be  duped,  and  that 
no  man  should  know  the  state  of  his  mind,  until  it  had  undergone  a  thor- 
ough change.  Yet,  in  five  minutes  alter,  so  rapidly  did  he  cool  down, 
that  he  told  us  he  would  rejoice  if  his  friends  were  changed  indeed,  and 
that  as  for  himself,  he  would  do  anything  that  might  change  his  heart. 
He  saw  liimself  to  be  left  alone  and  forsaken  by  his  friends,  and  resolved 
to  see  them  the  next  day  and  hear  it  from  themselves  before  he  could  bs^ 

"'I  am  all  alone,  what  shall  I  do?'  was  his  cry  that  night  before  he 
went  to  bed.  I  pressed  him  to  pray,  he  said  '  he  could  not.'  I  warned 
him  now,  while  the  Spirit  was  striving  with  him,  that  it  would  be  danger- 
ous not  to  attempt  it.  It  was  late  at  niglit ;  he  hung  to  us,  felt  loth  to 
part,  and  dropped  a  tear  as  I  bid  him  good-night  and  begged  of  him  to 
pray  before  he  went  to  bed.  I  thought  it  prudent  to  let  liis  own  mind 
pursue  its  reflections  vmtil  he   should  see   Codwise   and  McCoskry.* 

*Mr.  Hamilton  Codv/ise  and  Bishop  LIcCoskry  of  tiie  Episcopal  cliurcli  in  ilielilsan. 

TURNING   TO   GOD.  27 

On  Wednesday  they  came  to  Mr.  Duffieli's  study,  who  begged  them  to 
deal  faithfully  with  George  when  he  should  call  upon  them  that  evening. 
He  knew  that  they  were  with  the  minister  but  took  no  notice  of  them. 
His  mother  could  discover  notliing  more  than  common  in  him,  but  was 
pleased  to  hear  him  say  that  he  would  go  to  lecture  that  evening,  if  Mr. 
]\IcC.  would  make  the  first  prayer.     When  he  returned  from  college  he 
looked  solemn.   In  the  evening  he  saw  liis  friends,  and  went  with  them  to 
lecture.     He  returned  directly  home,  but  said  little ;  told  his  companion, 
Williams,  ♦  that  he  believed  every  one  of  his  friends  and  acquaintances 
were  either  Christians  or  seriously  exercised,  and  that  he  could  not  find 
one,  if  he  was  so  disposed,  to  carry  on  and  sport  witli  as  before.'    His 
mother  mentioned  that  she  had  written  to  his  father  of  the  interest,  but 
had  given  no  names.     He  thanked  her  and  said,  'It  will  not  be  secret 
long.'     She  asked  '  If  he  thought  them  sincere.'     *  Oh  yes.'     '  Don't  they 
want  you  to  go  with  them? '     His  heart  was  too  full  to  answer.     When 
his  brothers  and  Williams  returned  from  lecture  they  went  straight  to  the 
study,  and  I  heard  them  ^Trestling  in  prayer  together.     George  seemed 
very  solemn  at  family  worship,  but  his  mother  tliought  it  was  only  be- 
cause others  were  so.     The  next  morning  he  was  still  solemn  and  tender, 
and  would  allow  himself  to  be  spoken  to,  though  none  said  anything  to 
him  but  his  mother,  and  that  but  little.     He  took  no  supper  the  evening 
before,  nor  did  he  breakfast  the  next  morning.     That  day,  Thursday,  he 
again  saw  Codwise  and  McCoskry,  and  they  were  faithful  to  him.     He 
did  not  come  home  till  after  dinner,  then  refused  to  eat.     He  had  been 
weeping  and  went  to  his  own  room  much  agitated.   His  mother  followed  to 
restore  his  Bible  and  saw  him  sitting  with  a  countenance  like  a  con- 
demned criminal.     He  remained  by  himself  till  near  five  o'clock  when 
he  had  to  attend  college  prayers.     IMcCartee  saw  iiun  wandering  alone, 
and  wanted  him  to  go  and  drink  tea  at  Prof.  McClellan's ;  he  declined. 
He  then  begged  him  to  go  to  the  Doctor's  (Mason),  but  he  still  refused. 
'  That   evening,'  Mr.  DulSeld  says,    *  I  was  surprised  to  find  him  at 
the    place    appointed     for    meeting    anxious    x-ersons.       I   addressed 
myself    to    him,    when    he    fell    into    my    arms    and    poured    forth 
torrents  of  tears.     His  mind  was  pressed  down  with  anxiety,  but  frse 
from  terror.     After  conversing  with  him  in  a  smothered  tone  some  time, 
it  appeared  as  if  a  gleam  of  hope  darted  across  his  mind.     I  stated  the 
numerous  encouragements  that  he  had  to  seek  the  God  of  Jacob.     His 
fv^elings  gushed  forth  in  an  exr.ression  of  confidence,  though  but  faint, 

28  MEMOIR    OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUXE,    D.  D. 

and  it  thrilled  as  with  an  electric  shock  through  the  whole  roum.  The 
tempest  of  his  mind,  he  said,  had  been  somewhat  lulled  to  rest.  We 
walked  home  together,  talking  about  his  views  and  feelings  all  the  way, 
and  when  we  came  to  the  door,  I  proposed  that  we  should  quickly  have 
worship  and  retire  to  rest,  and  that  he  should  occupy  my  study.  lie 
told  me  that  he  had  met  a  passage  in  Joel  2 :  12,  13,  which  encouraged 
him,  and  he  was  determined  to  seek  till  he  got  the  blessing.  As  late  as 
one  o'clock  that  night  we  heard  him  wrestling  over  our  heads.  As  he 
lifted  his  voice  in  prayer,  that  passage  crossed  my  mind,  and  I  felt  a  con- 
fidence that  he  would  not  seek  in  vain,  '  Surely  thou  hast  not  said  unto 
the  seed  of  Jacob,  seek  ye  my  face  in  vain.' 

All  hearts  were  deeply  engaged  for  him,  and  he  had  been  made  the 
subject  of  special  prayer,  the  evening  before,  by  the  serious  young  men  in 
college.  The  next  morning,  Friday,  he  still  continued  solemn,  and 
weeping  frequently.  His  mother  pressed  his  dear  face  to  her  bosom 
and  asked,  'If  he  felt  no  better.'  He  answered  'Not  much  better.' 
'What  is  the  difficulty?'  'He  feared  that  he  would  not  be  accepted.' 
She  told  him  she  expected  that  would  be  the  case.  He  had  resisted  the 
Spirit  on  former  occasions,  and  now  the  Lord  was  trying  bim;  but  she 
encouraged  him  to  persevere,  assuring  liim  of  victory. 

He  ate  no  breakfast  and  passed  to  college.  Having  now  been  without 
food  for  nearly  two  days,  he  was  persuaded  to  take  a  little  nourishment. 
Immediately  after  he  opened  the  Bible  and  pointed,  says  Mr.  Duffieid, 
to  the  passage  in  Joel  wliich  encouraged  him,  and  in  a  low  tone  began  to 
converse  with  me  about  his  feelings.  I  turned  up  several  different  pas- 
sages in  the  Scriptures,  but  particularly  Isa.  43 :  22-26.  I  observed, 
these  charges  Go<l  makes  against  you ;  this  is  your  character,  but  look 
at  the  grace,  v.  25.  Behold  your  duty  and  privilege,  v.  28.  A  shower 
of  tears  fell  instantly,  and  wetting  his  Bible  soiled  the  page.  Precious 
memorial !  I  asked  him  to  retire  to  my  study.  For  an  hour  we  con- 
versed about  his  exercises,  until  being  crowded  down  with  evidences  in 
his  favour,  he  could  no  longer  doubt  the  work  of  God.  I  led  him  to  the 
throne  of  grace,  and  poured  out  my  heart  in  thankfulness  to  God.  His 
heart  seemed  ready  to  break.  As  I  rose  from  my  knees  I  told  liim  of 
necessary  business,  and  though  it  was  painful  to  my  feelings  to  leave 
him,  yet  I  must  go.  He  then  caught  me  by  the  hand  and  said,  '  Oh  no, 
my  dear  brother  George,  you  must  not  go  till  I,  too,  return  thanks  to 
God.'     He  then  bowed  and  prayed,  and  his  heart  was  led  forth  in  the 

TURNING   TO   GOD.  29 

strongest  and  most  vivid  exercises  of  faith.  *  Thou  wilt  hear  me,  O 
God,  when  I  cry  unto  thee.  Thou  hast  said,  Ask  and  ye  shall  receive. 
Lord,  I  have  done  so  and  I  claim  thy  promise.  Thou  hast  the  price  of 
my  soul,  the  blood  of  thy  Son,  and  thou  delightest  in  judgment  over 
mercy.  It  is  thy  darling  attribute,  for  before  mercy  could  be  manifested, 
justice  must  be  satisfied.  I  therefore  claim  the  pardon  of  my  sins,  not 
for  mine  own  sake,  but  for  the  sake  of  thy  dear  Son.' 

Such  were  some  of  his  expressions  of  fsiith.  He  continued  in  the  same 
strain  for  some  time,  and  then  made  a  full  dedication  of  himself  to  God, 
prayed  to  be  furnished  with  the  armor  of  God,  to  be  perfected,  strength- 
ened, stablished ;  to  be  made  a  devoted  servant  of  Christ ;  to  be  em- 
ployed and  made  eminently  successful  in  winning  souls  to  Christ ;  to  be 
enabled  to  endure  all  the  fatigue  and  toils  of  the  way  and  receive,  at 
last,  a  crown  of  glory.  His  heart  too,  was  earnest  in  prayer,  for  the 
work  of  God  among  us,  for  the  conversion  of  sinners ;  especially  that 
God  would  bless  brother  McC.  and  myself,  for  the  work  to  which  we  had 
been  called,  and  make  us  successful  and  reward  us  richly  for  our  labours 
of  love.  One  of  his  expressions  of  faith  struck  me  with  great  force.  He 
addressed  God  as  *  the  God  of  liis  father,  the  God  of  his  mother,  the  God 
of  his  sisters,  the  God  of  his  brothers,  the  God  of  all  his  friends,  and 
claimed  him  as  his  own  God  and  Redeemer.'  His  prayer  carried  with  it 
to  my  mind  the  most  overpowering  evidence  of  being  wrought  in  his 
heart  by  the  Spirit  of  God.  When  we  rose  from  our  knees,  we  could 
neither  of  us  speak,  but  fell  into  one  another's  arms  and  embraced  as 
hroiliers  in  Christ.  It  seemed  as  if  we  could  not  part.  Oh,  it  was  a 
moment  of  exquisite  joy.  Heaven  let  fall  upon  us  some  of  its  own 
bliss,  and  our  hearts  exulted  in  the  Lord  our  God.  From  that  time,  he 
has  manifested  the  most  striking  change.  It  is  literally  true,  '  old  things 
have  passed  away  and  all  things  have  become  new.'  Who  can  refuse  to 
give  all  the  glory  to  God,  and  acknowledge  liis  work.'' 

Thus  terminated  a  glorious  victory  of  Almighty  grace. 
Mr.  DufiSeld's  house  had  been  named  "  Happy  Retreat '^ 
and  it  was  now  happy  indeed.  He  hastened  to  Mrs.  Bethune's 
room,  his  face  bathed  in  tears  of  joy  and  cried,  "  Oh  !  dear 
mother,  George  is  a  new-born  soul."  Angels  carried 
the  good   news  to    heaven  on    the   22d    November,   1822. 

30  BIEMOIR   OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUXE,    D.  D. 

It  is  impossible  to  describe  the  emotions  which  filled  those 
praying  and  anxious,  though  long  baffled  and  disappointed, 
yet  never  wearied  nor  hopeless,  and  now  successful  parents. 
Mrs.  Bethune  writes  : 

"And  no-w  O  Lord,  what  can  we,  his  parents,  say.  For  thy  ser- 
vants' sake,  and  accordmg  to  thine  own  heart  hast  thou  done  all  this 
greatness  in  making  known  all  these  great  tilings.  O  Lord  God, 
there  is  none  like  unto  thee,  neither  is  there  any  God  beside  thee,  ac- 
cording to  all  that  we  have  heard  with  our  ears.  And  what  one  natio7i 
in  the  earth  is  like  thy  people,  like  Israel  whom  God  went  to  redeem  to 
be  his  own  people.  And  now,  O  Lord  God,  let  the  thing  that  thou  hast 
spoken  concerning  thy  servants  and  concerning  their  house,  be  estab- 
lished forever,  and  do  as  thou  hast  said.  Now,  therefore,  let  it  please 
thee  to  bless  the  house  of  thy  servants  that  it  may  be  before  thee  forever, 
for  thou  blessest,  O  Lord,  and  it  shall  be  blessed  forever.  Amen  and 

A  story  has  been  current  amongst  Dr.  Bethune's  friends, 
that  this  interesting  event  occurred  while  both  his  parents 
were  absent  from  him,  and  that  they  were  engaged  in  be- 
moaning his  hopeless  condition  and  their  unanswered  prayers, 
when  the  postman's  knock  was  heard,  bringing  the  joyful 
news  of  his  conversion.  The  above  narrative  will  show  that 
it  has  no  foundation  in  truth,  as  his  mother  was  all  the  time 
at  Carlisle,  an  attentive  and  careful  observer  of  her  son's 
progress.  Neither  was  his  father  at  all  despondent,  but 
with  that  wise  forecast  of  faith  which  is  often  so  remarkable, 
thus  wrote  on  September  29  :  "  My  mind  has  been  exer- 
cised for  the  salvation  of  my  dear  son.  At  times  I  feel  such 
nearness  to  the  throne  of  grace  with  this  petition,  and  such 
an  assurance  of  hope,  that  it  would  seem  as  if  the  blessing 
were  nigh  at  hand."  Again,  on  November  25,  when  he  has 
received  the  news  of  young  Mason's  death  and  that  there  is 
a  little  religious  interest,and  while  his  whole  heart  is  en- 
gaged that  his  son  may  be  a  partaker  of  the  hoped-for 
grace,  he  records  : 

TUFiNING    TO   GOD.  31 

"  I  have  had  of  late,  at  times,  amid  all  my  fears  for 
George,  some  sweet  and  secret  intimations  of  expected 
mercy  from  my  gracious  God."  And  thus  he  was  encour- 
aged to  plead  more  closely,  more  Lelievingiy,  more  perse- 
veringly,  and  more  fervently  that  a  new  heart  might  be 

The  new  convert,  having  obtained  a  calmer  state,  penned 
the  following  to  his  father  :  — 

"Carlisle,  Nov.  2G,  1822. 
It  was  my  intention  to  have  written  ycu  sooner,  Lut  the  duties  which 
devolved  upon  me  at  the  death  of  my  dear  friend,  James  Mason,  and 
subsequently  to  that,  the  anxiety  I  felt  to  attain  to  that  state  in  which  I 
could  meet  death  with  resignation  and  hope,  have  so  occupied  my  time 
and  disturbed  my  mind  that  I  could  not  bring  my  thoughts  sufficiently 
together.  But  now,  having,  I  trust,  found  a  sure  foothold  of  faith  in  the 
blood  of  my  Saviour,  and  having  obtained  the  consequent  joy  and  peace 
cf  mind,  I  feel  as  if  it  was  my  duty  to  write  you,  not  only  as  a  father  in 
the  fiesh,  but  as  one  who  is  a  joint  heir  with  me  in  the  salvation  of 
Christ.  You  will  no  doubt  wish  to  knoAV  what  occasioned  the  thought- 
less and  wicked  son  you  left,  to  have  turned  his  thoughts  on  such  sub- 
jects. I  will  give  you  an  account  of  its  beginning  and  progress.  On 
Saturday,  James  Mason  died.  In  the  evening  we  met  in  the  Belles 
Lettres  Hall  to  form  some  resolutions  as  a  tribute  of  respect  to  his 
memory.  Then  I  felt  sad  and  solemn  at  our  loss.  On  Sabbath  morn- 
ing, McCartee  preached  an  excellent  sermon,  but  it  reached  not  my 
hard  heart,  though  bowed  down,  as  it  were,  with  grief.  Sabbath  after- 
noon, we  followed  him  to  his  long  home,  and  in  the  graveyard,  though 
sobbing  and  weeping,  I  felt  not  the  address  which  the  soIem.n  scene  pre- 
sented to  my  mind.  Monday  passed  as  usual,  and  Tuesday,  until  the 
evening  when  brother  George  and  McC.  came  home  and  told  me  that 
Codwise,  McCoskry,  Cahoone,  Gregg,  A.  Labagh,  Samuel  Boyd,  and 
some  others  were  seeking  the  way  to  salvation.  First,  I  felt  mad  that 
they  should  be  so  foolish,  as  I  thought.  But  it  gave  way  to  a  deeper 
feeling  of  wonder,  and  then  my  love  to  Codwise  made  me  think  he  must 
be  sincere.  And  that  night  found  me,  for  the  first  time  of  my  life,  as  I 
can  recollect,  praying  fervently.     I  fc4t  as  if  my  friends  were  going,  and 

82  TvlEMOIR    OF    GEO.    V: ,    BETIIUXE,    D.  D. 

that  I  could  not  and  shor.ld  rxot  stay  beliind.  The  next  daj'  I  bridled  my 
feelings  until  evening,  -when  I  v/ent  to  lecture,  and  after  lecture  Codwise 
walked  with  me  and  advised,  and  that  night  again  found  me  earnestly 
engaged  for  the  salvation  of  my  soul.  Thursday  evening,  I  went  to  the 
room  v.^iiere  the  inquirers  mct>  and  I  went  out  lighter  and  seemingly 
more  happy  than  when  I  entered.  That  night  I  wrestled  hard,  and  said 
that  I  would  wrestle  like  Jacob  until  the  break  of  day,  and  that  God 
should  not  go  until  he  blessed  me.  But  ah !  I  became  fatigued,  and  went 
to  sleep.  33ut  God  did  not  forget  his  part  of  the  engagement,  he  did  bless 
rae.  On  Friday  evening  I  was  rejoicing  in  the  love  of  the  Son  of  God. 
Oh,  how  dear  does  that  blood  appear  to  me  now,  wliich  I  have  so  often 
trampled  under  foot.  It  seems  as  if  I  would  sufier  anything  to  promote 
the  glory  of  Christ's  Idngdom,  and  the  interests  of  his  church.  It  seems 
to  m.e  that  the  four  years  which  must  intervene  before  I  can  proclaim 
that  gospel  to  sinners  wliich  has  saved  my  soul,  is  a  very  long  timxO. 
Temptations  afSict  me,  doubts  still  harass  me,  but  the  love  of  Christ, 
like  the  sun  among  clouds,  disperses  all  the  darkness.  I  think  I  can  rely 
firmly  and  steadfastly  for  salvation  on  tlie  Saviour's  atonement.  I  be- 
lieve, I  can  never  be  cast  out.  His  promises  are  very  comfortable,  es- 
pecially those  which  speak  of  God's  being  the  God  of  his  people's  chil- 
dren. The  verse,  however,  wliich  ga^ve  the  most  comfort  in  my  da,rkest 
hours,  is  in  the  second  chapter  of  Joel.  'Turn  unto  me  with  all  your 
heart,'  &c.  I  complied  with  the  letter  and  spirit,  I  trust,  and  hoped  God 
would  do  liis  part,  and  I  was  not  deceived.  He  received  me  into  his 
fold  and  nursed  me,  weak  and  trembling,  in  his  arms.  And  I  trust  he 
will  keep  me  in  his  fold,  and  if  I  should  stray,  that  he  Avill  pursue  me 
and  constrain  me  to  come  back.  Pray  for  me,  my  dear  father,  that  I 
enter  not  into  temptation,  and  if  the  devil  should  tempt,  that  I  say  to 
him,  '  Get  tliee  behind  me.'  Lindsey  is,  I  hope,  coming  out  clear  and 
sure.  Codwise  and  McCoskry  like  old  Christians,  Cahoone  hoping  and 
comforted,  and  your  own  son  rejoicing  with  fear. 

Your  son  and  brother  I  trust,  in  Christ, 

Geo.  TV.  Betuune." 

An  interesting  coincidence  was,  that  about  the  same  time 
Miss  Mary  Williams,  to  whom  during-  the  last  summer, 
lie  had  frequentl}^  read  the  Word  of  God  when  she  lay  upon 
a  bed  of  sickness,  gave  her  heart  to  God  and  made  public 

TURNING    TO    GOD.  33 

confession  of  faith.  This  occurred  without  any  concert  of 
action  between  them,  and  was  not  discovered  till  years 

His  father  makes  this  grateful  comment : 

"Thus  the  dear  youth  who  was  dedicated  by  his  parents  to  the  sacred 
office,  in  humble  faith  in  God's  promise  and  power,  at  the  season  of  his 
natural  birth,  was  enabled  to  dedicate  himself  also,  at  the  hour  of  his 
spiritual  birth.  Amazing  grace !  unmerited  goodness !  Blessed  word 
on  which  our  blessed  God  has  caused  us  to  hope.  He  is  faithful  that 
promised.  He  also  will  do  it.     Thine  be  all  the  glory.     Amen !  " 

Indeed  it  was  an  occasion  of  thanksgiving  to  many ; 
the  youth  had  a  great  power  of  attaching  friends,  and 
letters  came  from  every  quarter  rejoicing  over  his  happiness. 
The  Rev.  Dr.  McCauley  informed  his  mother  that  her  son  had 
often  been  a  subject  of  prayer  with  him,  and  she  writes  : 
"■  Bacon,  Ward,  Sommerfield,  Romeyn,*  Caldwell,  your  dear 
grandmother,  and  still  dearer  father,  all  that  praying  breath 
spent  for  you  ;  it  will  be  difficult  for  you  to  tell  who  is  your 
spiritual  father,  so  many  have  been  interested  in  you." 

It  will  be  seen  that  his  warm,  grateful  nature  was  burning 
with  desire  to  carry  out  his  father's  dedication  and  do  some- 
thing for  Jesus,  and  that  it  was  a  great  trial  that  years  of 
preparation  were  demanded  before  he  could  proclaim  the 
riches  of  Christ.  As  far  as  he  had  opportunity  he  commenced 
to  plead  for  his  Saviour,  addressing  some  of  his  old  compan- 
ions at  Columbia  College.  His  epistles  called  forth  a  remon- 
strance from  his  friend.  Smith  P^'^ne,  whose  heart  had  ex- 
perienced a  change  about  the  same  time,  but  who  thought 
that  Bethune  acted  with  indiscretion.  Here  the  young  pro- 
fessor finds  himself  beset  by  different  religious  theories  in 
the   person  of   his  young  friends,  Pyne  and  Kirk.     Pyne 

*  The  family  during  his  minority  attended  tjie  Cburch  under  the  care  of  Dr.  J.  B. 
Romeyn,  in  Cedar  Street. 

34  MEMOIR    OF    GEO.    W.    BETIIUNE,    D.  D. 

considers  it  obtrusive  thus  to  address  his  friends,  asking  them 
to  turn  from  their  evil  ways.  He  puts  him  on  his  guard, 
and  warns  Bethune  against  enthusiasm.  He  does  not 
mean  that  elevated  love  of  God  which  every  true  Christian 
feels,  but  that  impatience  of  human  frailty  and  exclusive  at- 
tention to  particulars  which  degenerates  into  fanaticism. 
"  Nothing,^^  he  says,  "  is  more  attractive  than  unaffected  and 
unobtrusive  piety,  nothing  more  repulsive  than  a  gloomj^, 
pragmatical  spirit  which  would  deprive  man  of  the  innocent 
enjoyments  with  which  God  has  surrounded  him.  For  my  part 
I  never  enjoj^ed  society,  conversation,  plays  and  parties  so 
much  as  I  do  now,  but  novv^  I  take  them  all  in  moderation.  I 
surfeited  myself  formerly,  I  made  them  my  first  object,  now 
merely  as  occasional  relaxations  from  more  weighty  pursuits." 
Mr.  Kirk  writes,  ''  Be  faithful  to  the  souls  of  sinners.  Kemem- 
ber  the  pit  from  whence  you  were  digged  ;  all  sinners  are  as 
you  once  were,  they  need  your  prayers  and  your  warnings. 
It  is  in  the  performance  of  this  duty  I  have  found  the  most 
encouragement.  There  has  been  a  reaction  upon  my  soul. 
You  have  entered  upon  a  new  life  ;  your  companions,  your 
pursuits,  and  your  amusements  are  all  changed.  The  Chris- 
tian should  always  have  his  taste  elevated  so  far  above  the 
beggarly  elements  of  the  world  that  they  will  be  as  bitter 
herbs  in  his  mouth  ;''  and  then  adds  severe  views  of  Chris- 
tian duty.  Thus  at  the  commencement  of  his  religious  life  were 
presented  the  two  extreme  views  of  practice,  from  friends 
equally  attached  and  sincere.  It  was  his  duty  to  choose 
that  part,  to  which  he  adhered  through  life,  the  happy  mean. 
He  could  not  be  conformed  to  the  world,  neither  could  his 
Christianity  assume  the  form  of  asceticism. 

It  is  fair  to  state  that  both  friends  were  equall}^  rejoiced 
at  his  religious  change  Vvhile  each  offered  different  views  of 


practice.  But  wliatever  might  be  exterior  influences,  he  went 
steadily  on  in  tlie  course  of  Christian  duty.  His  sister 
wrote,  "  Dear  George  keeps  very  steady  ;  we  hear  no  more 
of  '  Old  King  Cole  ; '  but  last  night  he  was  singing  '  what 
think  ye  of  Christ  !  '  His  father,  whom  he  visited  during 
the  holidays,  says  : 

"He  has  dehghted  the  hearts  of  his  dear  mother  and  myself  by  tl-e 
solemnity,  devotion  and  sincerity  of  his  demeanor.  He  manifests  in- 
deed the  power  of  our  God  in  the  new  creation  of  his  soul.  Last  evening 
we  had  a  meeting  of  several  parents  of  sons  awakened  at  Carlisle  to 
declare  unitedly  one  thanksgiving  to  the  Lord,  and  to  supplicate  his 
continued  grace.  George  Bethune,  Samuel  Boyd,  Jr,  and  George  Lind- 
say Campbell  were  present,  tliree  youthful  representatives  of  the  con- 
verts at  Carlisle.  On  being  questioned,  they  acknowledged  the  happi- 
ness they  enjoyed  by  their  change  of  state,  and  in  the  privilege  of  pouring 
out  their  hearts  to  God  in  prayer,  that  Christ  was  precious  to  their  souls." 

Again.  *'  Yesterday  morning  our  beloved  son  left  us.  Delightful  in- 
deed was  his  visit.  Everybody  in  the  house  remarked  the  happy  change 
he  has  undergone ;  no  anxiety  now  about  food  or  dress,  no  fretfalncss, 
no  empty  wishes,  no  murmurings,  no  vain  boastings,  all  seemed  joy  and 
peace  in  believing,  his  soul  thirsting  for  the  love  of  God." 

^'He  was  steadily  attendant  on  prayer-meetings,  and  though 
so  young'  a  Christian,  he  was  so  solicited  to  pray  as  to  make 
the  concluding  prayer  at  Mr.  Morse's  school-room  at  the 
Thursday  evening  meeting.  It  is  said  to  have  been  simple,  fer- 
vent and  unaffected.  It  produced  much  feeling  and  interest, 
being  so  manifest  a  proof  of  the  power  of  God  in  turning  a 
heart  of  stone  to  a  heart  of  prayer.  I  was  not  present,  or  I 
would  probably  have  prevented  his  being  called  upon  to 

''  Your  conduct,"  said  his  mother,  "  I  have  reason  to  be- 
lieve was  blessed  to  all  under  our  roof,  even  poor  Eichard 
has  never  been  absent  from  worship  since."    Thus  went  on 

36  MEMOIR    OF   GEO.    V,\    BETHU^'E,    D.  D. 

the  3'oung  convert,  his  heart  all  alive  in  the  Lord's  service, 
instant  in  prayer,  seeking  his  young  companions,  his  room  me- 
lodious with  psalms  and  spiritual  songs,  and  gentle  and  loving 
towards  all.  He  followed  his  mother's  advice!  "  I  do  not  say 
you  ought  not  to  be  cheerful,  nay,  you  may  even  indulge  in 
a  little  fun,  provided  you  do  not  descend  to  buffooner}^  or 
romping.''  He  was  a  cheerful,  and  yet  an  earnest  Chris- 
tian. About  this  time  he  published  in  the  Religious  Miscel- 
lany the  following  expression  of  his  faith  and  love,  not  so 
bad  for  a  lad  of  eighteen  :  — 

Full  many  a  star  of  purest  light 

Beams  on  the  midnight  wanderer's  sight, 

V.l'ien  -winter  howls  not  through  the  air 

Nor  tempests  veil  them  with  despair. 

But  oh !  there  is  a  brighter  gem. 

The  lovely  star  of  Bethlehem  ; 

In  vain  the  storm  winds  wildly  roll, 

Its  heavenly  light  vnll  cheer  my  soul, 

Will  pierce  the  veil  of  deep  despair, 

And  bid  me  trust  my  Pilot's  care. 

Eull  many  a  Sower  of  beauty  blooms 
And  fills  the  air  with  sweet  perfumes, 
And  smiles  upon  us  as  we  stray 
Along  our  devious,  doubtful  way, 
But  when  the  sunbeams  scorch  our  plain 
They  wither  ne'er  to  bloom  again ; 
But  vain  the  beauties  these  disclose 
To  those  which  sliiue  on  Sharon's  rose ; 
It  blooms,  though  blasting  sunbeams  glow 
Or  winter  sheds  Ms  fieecy  snow, 
And  cheers  the  Aveary  pilgrim's  eye 
While  other  flowers  in  darkness  lie. 

When  pale  affliction's  fainting  child 
In  sadness  roams  the  desert  wild, 

TUIINING    TO   GOD.  37 

"When  thirsts  have  bound  his  parched  tongue, 
And  e'en  forbade  tlie  cheering  song, 
With  joy  he  views  the  fountain  flow. 
Whoso  waters  can  assuage  his  woe. 
But  summer's  heat,  with  scorching  beam, 
May  dry  the  waters  of  the  stream  ; 
And  thus  the  Pilgrim's  anxious  eye 
rinds  but  the  channel  dark  and  dry. 

But  there  's  a  fountain  pure  and  bright 
Which  always  flows  in  living  light. 
Which,  draAvn  from  Jesus'  blessed  veins. 
Can  quench  our  thirst  and  cleanse  our  stains. 
Yes,  Saviour !  in  thyself,  divine. 
These  heavenly  beauties,  graces, sliine. 
Thou  art  our  staff,  our  help,  our  joy, 
Our  hope,  which  time  can  ne  'er  destroy. 
May  I  within  thy  covenant  dwell 
Forever,  great  Immanuel ! 


*'  Amen  !  my  beloved  son,"  responds  his  rejoicing  father,  but  tiien  he 
acts  the  critic,  "  I  like  Jubal  very  well.  Like  yourself,  however,  I  tliink 
he  has  now  and  then  a  line  or  two  needlessly  long  for  the  other  lines, 
which,  unless  read  with  '  a  quickstep,'  will  mar  the  smoothness  of  the 
poetry.  Tell  Jubal,  therefore,  to  adjust  the  chords  of  liis  lyre  more  stu- 
diously, and  the  sweetness  and  strength  of  its  sounds  will  be  heard 

naving"  become  established  in  the  faith  of  Jesus,  and 
having  given  evidence  of  sincerity  in  a  consistent  life,  he 
now  proposed  to  make  public  confession,  and  unite  with 
the  Church  in  holy  communion,  which  was  done  on  the  9th 
of  February,  1823,  in  the  Presbyterian  church  of  Carlisle, 
amidst  a  goodly  company  of  new  converts.  On  the  same 
day  his  parents  were  communing  at  their  own  Zion.  "  No 
tongue   can   tell   the  joy   of  his  mothers  heart  and  mine 

38  JiEilOin    or    GEO.    Vv'.    BETIIUXE,    D.    D. 

on  our  communion  Sabballi,  realizing,  as  we  did,  tliatitwas 
dear  George's  communion  Sabbath  also  a,t  Carlisle,  when 
for  the  first  time  he  professed  his  love  to  the  dear  Re- 
deemer.'' In  the  college  an  opposition  to  the  revival 
had  grown  up,  and  some  of  those  who  had  been  interested 
went  back  to  the  world.  This  awakened  anxiety  for  his 
welfare,  and  called  forth  the  liveliest  exhortations  from  his 
mother.  Having  urged  him  to  constant  and  fervent  prayer, 
she  adds  :  — 

"  Eemember  that  many  eyes  will  be  upon  you,  some  anxiously  looking 
for  the  fruits  of  the  revival  at  Carlisle,  in  your  spiritual  mindedness,  cir- 
cumspect -Nvalk  and  conversation ;  others  will  vratch  for  your  halting ;  not 
only  the  -world,  but  some  professors  of  religion,  and  who  I  believe  are 
on  the  foundation,  but  who  are  jealous  of  revivals,  and  say, '  Y\'e  will  see,  if 
these  young  converts  hold  on.'  Oh  my  beloved  son,  wound  not  the  dear 
Saviour,  and  Cliristians,  by  your  untender  walk  and  conversation." 

An  exhortation  follows  upon  the  extravagant  use  of 
money.  From  this,  and  similar  advice  of  his  father,  it 
would  appear  that  the  young  Christian  had  not  yet  learned 
the  value  of  money,  or  did  not  feel  the  responsibility^  of 
treasuring  this  talent  for  the  Lord's  service.  His  father 
had  just  assumed  much  additional  labor  and  care,  that  he 
might  have  the  means  to  assist  those  of  his  family  who 
were  called  to  labor  in  word  and  doctrine. 

The  remainder  of  his  Senior  Year  passed  without  any 
event  of  special  interest.  He  graduated  in  the  ensuin.g 
summer,  and  the  Commencement  gave  opportunity  to  in- 
dulge the  muse  in  a  poem  on  the  ''  Power  of  Fancy,''  an 
effort  not  wanting  in  strength  or  melody.  Opening  with  its 
praises,  he  then  depicts  its  sadder  side,  quoting  Chatterton 
and  his  lines,  "  Mj^  broken  Ij^re,''  and  thus  proceeds  :  — . 

TUnXIXG    TO    GOD.  39 

"And  yet  who  would  not  be  thine  ardent  cliild 
Fancy !  high  dame,  with  eye  and  aspect  wild  ? 
Who  would  not  follow  thee,  tho'  on  his  youthful  head 
Life's  wrathful  vials  all  tlieir  vengeance  shed  ? 
What  tho'  the  thorn  oft  overspreads  thy  path, 
And  the  rude  tempest  shades  it  with  its  wrath ; 
Yet  there  are  flowers  so  sweet,  so  beautiful, 
T  'were  worth  an  age  of  woe,  one  wreath  to  cull. 
What  the'  the  world,  while  still  it  loves  the  swell 
Of  liis  wild  numbers,  leave  the  bard  to  dwell 
In  silent  loneliness,  and  plodding  schools 
Despise  the  eccentric  wanderer  from  tlieir  rules  ; 
He  needs  their  friendship  not,  liis  lip  is  curl'd 
In  proud  contempt  of  an  ungrateful  world ; 
He  seeks  his  friends  axuong  the  mountains  high, 
And  the  bright  jewels  of  the  azure  sky." 

His  lyrical  capacity  was  already  acknowledged ;  Mr. 
Kirk  requests  copies  of  his  poetical  effusions,  as  pledges  of 
his  future  usefulness  to  the  Cliurch  of  God,  in  aiding  the 
flow  of  religious  feeling  and  exalting  the  standard  of  sacred 
poetry.  The  Rev.  Wm.  Thorn  of  England,  publishing  a 
book  on  the  Sabbath,  aSxed  one  of  Mr.  G.  Bethune's  hj^mns 
at  the  end.  About  this  time  was  commenced  a  correspondence 
with  the  Rev.  Mr.  Prust,  an  independent  clergyman  of  Bris- 
tol, England,  which  was  tho  basis  of  a  long  friendship. 
During  the  summer  he  was  a  frequent  visitor  and  great 
comforter  to  Miss  Cornelia  Brackenridge,  a  cultivated  young 
person,  skilful  in  music,  who  died  in  early  life.  Thus  his 
father  addressed  him  on  his  eighteenth  birthday  : 

*'I  love  to  see  you  searching  the  Word  of  God,  and  loaning  on  that;  it 
is  the  only  source  of  wisdom,  humility,  comfort,  reproof  and  establisli- 
ment  of  heart.  I  would  wish  my  beloved  son  to  save  himself  much  of 
my  trouble  by  a  close  examination  of  the  Word  of  God,  and  by  a  firm, 
unwavering  grasp  of  the  covenant  of  God  in  early  life,  that  he  may  fi.-.d 

40  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

them  to  be  a  lamp  to  his  feet,  and  a  light  to  his  path.  ISIy  chief  safety 
amidst  the  storms  of  life  has  been  owing  to  my  firm  faith  in  the  Word 
of  God,  casting  myself  unreservedly  on  its  promises,  and  pleading  them 
fervently  at  the  throne  of  grace,  in  the  name  of  my  blessed  Lord  and 
Saviour.  I  have  had  many  answers  to  prayer,  which  I  have  regarded 
with  astonishment,  yet  not  often  in  the  time  and  way  I  had  looked  for 
them,  but  in  a  much  better  way  and  time,  so  that  often  the  heart  has,  as 
it  were,  cried  out  in  response  to  the  gracious  declaration  of  God,  *  O 
Israel  thou  hast  destroyed  thyself,  but  in  me  is  thy  help.' " 




The  Commencement  of  Dickinson  College,  while  it 
brought  its  joys  and  opened  its  brilliant  hopes,  still  had 
a  trial.  The  young  men,  who  had  taken  sweet  counsel  to- 
gether and  been  united  so  tenderly  in  the  love  of  Jesus, 
were  now  to  separate.  They  belonged  to  different  denom- 
inations and  would  select  various  places  for  theological 
study.  Mr.  Cod  wise,  the  most  intimate  friend  of  j^oung 
Bethune,  was  attached  to  the  Episcopal  Church,  and  this, 
with  the  added  influence  of  Mr.  Pyne  and  other  associates 
at  Columbia,  would  incline  him  in  a  similar  direction.  But 
his  father's  wish  was  law  with  him,  and  it  was  determined 
that  he  should  enter  the  Seminary  at  Princeton.  A  season 
of  relaxation  from  study  was  granted  which  was  spent,  in 
part,  among  the  pleasant  scenes  at  Salem,  where  he  read 
Paley's  Philosophy,  Watts  on  the  Mind,  the  works  of  Lord 
Kames,  and  various  poets.  He  was  much  pleased  with  the 
Avritings  of  Dr.  Alex.  Proudfit,  and  purposed  to  make  his 
Practical  Godliness  a  frequent  companion  in  future.  These 
books  had  been  seen  before,  but  had  never  been  read  as  they 
deserved.  The  student  now  develops  and  seeks  to  recover 
wasted  opportunities.  He  was  appointed  to  declaim  at  the 
AVashington  Adelphi  Porum.  Later,  he  accompanied  his 
father,  whose  health  was  impaired,  on  a  tour  through  Penn- 
sylvania. Soon  the  time  for  labor  returned  and  his  father 
makes  the  following  record  : 

42  MKMOir.    OF    GEO.    Vr.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

"  On  the  5th  of  November  I  -svent  -with  ray  beloved  son  George  (early, 
frequently,  and  fervently  devoted  to  the  service  and  glory  of  my  God), 
and  five  of  his  pious,  youthful  companions,  in  order  to  place  them  in 
the  Theological  Seminary  at  Princeton,  New  Jersey,  where  Dr.  Alexan- 
der, Dr.  Miller,  and  the  Rev.  Mr.  Hodge  are  the  able,  faithful  and  pious 
teachers  and  professors.  In  a  period  like  the  present,  when  gaiety  and 
fashionable  amusements  fascinate  the  youth  of  our  city,  my  dear  son 
had  his  share  of  example  and  temptation  to  plunge  into  these  courses. 
My  mind  felt  deep  anxieties  lest  he  should  slirink  from  the  closer  studies 
of  the  Theological  School,  and  the  corresponding  exercises  of  serious 
and  thoughtful  piety  which  attach  to  tliis  manner  of  life.  The  Lord,  who 
knows  every  heart,  is  my  witness  that  all  my  conduct  towards  liim, 
according  to  my  limited  capacity  and  slender  stock  of  vasdom,  has  been 
directed  to  lead  him,  imperceptibly  by  Mm,  in  such  a  way  as  to  preserve 
him  from  worldly  temptations,  and  to  cherisli  and  keep  alive  in  him,  the 
holy  impressions  of  love  to  God,  and  consecration  to  his  service.  The 
journey  to  Carlisle,  undertaken  with  this  view  as  to  him,  has  liad,  I 
trust,  a  happy  effect.  The  scenes  of  his  first  feelings  of  spiritual  joy 
seemed  to  re-animate  his  soul ;  his  communion  with  liis  dear  youthful 
companions,  converts  with  himself  to  righteousness  in  the  sweet  revival 
at  Carlisle,  refreshed  his  spirit ;  the  solemn  and  awakening  circumstan- 
ces of  the  death  of  so  many  of  his  acquaintances,  and  more  especially 
the  sudden  decease  of  his  lively  young  friend  Ellen  Mc  Kinney,  of  Har- 
risburg,  were  calculated  to  make  a  deep  impression  on  his  warm  and 
youthful  feelings,  and  to  exalt,  in  his  view,  the  importance  and  value  of 
the  religion  of  Jesus  Christ,  which  purifies  and  sanctifies  enjoyment  in 
this  life,  and  insures  eternal  happiness  in  that  wliich  is  to  come.  Trem- 
bling, hoping,  leaning  upon  the  divine  power,  kindness  and  faithfulness 
of  my  covenant.  Almighty  God,  I  went  vrith  my  boy  to  the  school  of  the 
prophets,  and  blessed  be  His  glorious  name,  He  was  not  unmindful  of  His 
promises.  I  was  truly  astonished  to  see  with  what  calmness,  decision 
and  sobriety  of  mind  he  entered  the  sacred  place.  The  chaste  solemnity 
of  his  manner,  during  the  many  religious  exercises  in  which  we  were 
engaged  for  the  five  days  I  stayed  with  liim,  delighted  my  heart,  and  I 
could,  at  times,  think  that  the  shining  of  his  countenance  improved  by 
the  settled  inward  devotion  of  the  heart.  He  seemed,  when  we  parted, 
affected  to  tears  by  my  tender  care  of  liim,  (I  being  the  only  parent  who 
went  to  tlie  spot  to  settle  their  sons  in  the  college  rooms,  which  were  to 


be  furnished  for  three  years,)  but  I  was  most  pleased  with  his  remarks 
that  he  trusted,  above  all,  in  a  higher  than  an  earthly  parent,  to  his  Father 
in  heaven,  for  all  that  he  stood  in  need  of  for  life  and  duty.  Rich  were 
my  parental  feelings  on  that  occasion,  and  rich  were  his  filial  feelings 
also.  I  thank  my  heavenly  Fatlier  for  this  encouraging  commencement, 
this  first  movement  to  lend  my  child  to  the  Lord.  I  will  praise  Jehovah 
for  all  that  is  past,  and  praise  him  for  all  that  is  to  come." 

His  experience  in  tlie  Seminary  docs  not  prove  very 
satisfactory.  Dr.  Miller's  lectures  are  very  interesting  (on 
Chronology) ;  and  the  Sunday  conference  is  interesting  and 
instructive,  discussing-,  What  are  the  best  means  of  render- 
ing our  intercourse  and  communion  profitable  to  each  other? 
But  the  Ilebrevv  is  dull.  Ilis  letters  to  friends  are  full  of 
lamentations  over  this  study.  One  replies,  Hebrew  presents 
"  one  parallax  "  after  another,  if  not  in  name,  in  nature,  at 
least  in  one  respect,  difficulty  ;  the  same  report  comes  from 
the  Episcopal  Seminary.  This  should  not  be  held  as  a  proof 
of  distaste  for  study,  but  is  to  be  attributed  to  the  imperfect 
manner  in  which  the  language  was  taught,  very  few  of  the 
theologians  of  that  day  being  good  Hebrew  scholars.  A 
disagreeable  feature  in  the  Seminary  was  an  extreme  cen- 
soriousness  and  captiousness  ;  and  ''  some  of  those  men 
whom  we  understand  to  be  quite  lax  and  moderate  abroad, 
turn  out  to  be  the  most  pious,  consistent  and  devoted 
Christians  among  us."  The  mode  of  life  was  displeasing  to 
one  who  had  alwaj^s  enjoyed  the  comforts  of  a  refined  home. 
''  Where  can  I,  a  poor  desolate  stranger,  find  a  kind  female 
to  use  a  needle  for  me.  My  splendid  needle  and  thread 
housewife,  if  well  stocked,  would  be  useful  to  me."  His 
letters  remind  us  of  the  scene  pictured  iu  his  address  before 
the  Univcrsit}^  of  Pennsylvania: 

44  MEMOirw    OF    GEO.    W.    BETllUNE,    D.  D. 

"How  different  is  the  commons  table,  often  ill  served,  from  the  pleas- 
ing family  board  with  its  natural  courtesies  and  confiding  interchange 
of  thought !  No  lady's  eye  overlooks  them  as  they  scramble  like  boors 
for  the  hasty  meal.  No  woman's  tidy  hand  has  arranged  their  wardrobes, 
and  no  approving  smile  rewards  and  encourages  decency  of  dress  and 
carriage.  A  college  student's  wardrobe  !  What  a  collection  it  is  of  toeless 
stockings,  buttonless  wristbands,  and  uncared-for  rents,  some  mothers 
can  tell  who  have  examined  the  trunks  they  saw  packed  so  neatly  a  few 
months  before.  A  college  student's  room,  shared  perchance,  with  one 
to  whom  neatness  is  an  unknown  quality ;  its  littered,  unscrubbed,  uncar- 
peted  floor;  its  confused  and  broken  furniture;  its  close  atmosphere, 
heated  by  a  greasy  stove,  and  redolent  of  tobacco ;  its  bed  a  lounging 
place  by  day,  whose  pillows  have  never  been  shaken  or  sheets  smoothed 
by  other  than  the  college  porter,  who  intermitted  for  such  ministry  the 
carrying  of  wood,  or  the  blacking  of  boots  ;  its  dim  panes  festooned  with 
ancient  cobwebs,  through  which  the  noonday  sun  looks  yellow  as  through 
a  London  fog;  it  is  indescribable  as  chaos.  Wo  to  him  whom  sickness 
seizes  in  such  an  abode !  I^ind  nurses  he  may  have ;  but  how  rough ! 
With  what  heavy  tread  and  strange  notions  of  the  materia  medica! 
Vainly  does  the  fevered  eye  look  around  for  mother,  sister,  or  time-hon- 
ored servant !  Vainly  does  the  fevered  thirst  crave  the  grateful  drink 
their  hands  once  pressed  to  his  lips,  when  he  was  sick  at  home  !  There 
is  none  to  sprinkle  the  fragrant  spirit  on  his  brow,  or  after  bathing  his 
feet  in  the  attempered  water,  to  wipe  them  dry  and  wrap  them  warm. 
Alas !  poor  youth ;  he  has  a  mother,  he  has  sisters,  he  has  a  home, 
where  kindness  might  have  made  sickness  a  luxury,  but  they  have  sent 
him  away  to  suffer  among  strangers." 

Doubtless  this  picture  was  drawn  from  sad  experience ; 
and  in  answer  to  complaints,  his  prudent  father  wrote  : 

'♦  My  hopes  of  the  stability  of  your  future  character  are  strong.  As 
the  boy  departs  and  the  man  approaches,  your  judgment,  which  I  have 
generally  found  radically  good,  will  become  more  decisive  in  itself,  more 
operative  on  your  outward  actions,  and  a  more  steady  regulator  of  your 
inward  thoughts  and  temper  of  mind.     Growth  in  grace  will  assist  the 


improvement  of  this  excellent  quality  ;  and  secret  prayer,  with  a  practi- 
cal study  of  the  Word  of  God,  will  soon  ripen  it  to  maturity.  A  steady 
exercise  of  a  sound  judgment  Avill  calm  the  feelings,  subdue  restlessness, 
and  those  constant  cravings  of  the  unsettled  mind,  which  form  its  secret 
scorpion  lash  of  irritations  and  restlessnesses.  In  moulding  our  own  char- 
acter, the  first  obstacles  to  be  overcome  are  our  own  besetting  sins. 
Watch  your  own  heart,  my  son,  as  your  Avorst  enemy ;  learn  to  trace  its 
windings  to  deceive.  Eesolve  to  be  contented  to  act  witU  judgment, 
under  present  inconveniences;  and  very  soon  you  will  find  a  steady 
peace,  a  holy  triumph,  with  a  happy  consciousness  you  are  fighting  the 
good  fight  of  faith  with  success,  a  comfort  far  beyond  what  change  of  sit- 
uation would  afford  you." 

However  good  the  advice,  the  youth  was  never  at  rest 
until  he  had  exchanged  the  rough  fare  and  many  annoyances 
of  the  Commons,  for  the  comfort  of  a  pleasant  and  respect- 
able family  ;  and  surely  no  sensible  man  can  blame  him. 

Books  are  sought  for  :  Jahn's  Archeology,  Gerard's  Insti- 
tutes, Dr.  Marsh's  Lectures,  Macknight  on  the  Epistles, 
Stapferi  Theologia. 

Jan.  1824.  At  the  holidays  he  returned  home  and  "  was 
greatly  improved  already,  by  his  short  stay  at  the  Seminary. 
His  parents  were  truly  delighted  by  his  conversation." 

Having  formed  closer  habits  of  study,  he  found  it  neces- 
sary to  observe  carefully  rules  of  diet,  living  upon  milk  and 
vegetables  and  eating  little  meat.  In  the  same  view  he  took 
rapid  exercise  on  horseback,  so  that  far  from  being  a  fast 
liver,  his  habits  were  carefully  formed  to  guard  against  the 
corpulency  that  v/as  natural  to  him. 

In  Feb.  1824  he  had  "just  begun  the  study  of  Theology ; 
the  studies  in  which  Ire  had  been  engaged  were  merely  pre- 
paratory, and  is  glad  in  feeling  that  he  is  actually  entering 
on  the  grand  study."     He  was  more  impressed  with   the 

46  MEMOIR   OF   GT:0.    W.    EETIIU2sE,    d.  d. 

value  of  prayer.  Speaking  of  the  gifts  of  Mr.  Wilberforce 
to  the  Seminary,  he  adds  : — 

"  What  ca  iDlessing  Ave  inherit  in  tlie  prayers  of  so  many  good  saints  ! 
If  the  effectual  fervent  prayer  of  'one  made  righteous'  availeth  much, 
I  rejoice  to  hear  of  good  people  praying.  Oh,  that  we  might  be  more 
engaged  in  prayer.  We  cannot  weary  our  God,  why  then  should  we 
become  weary  ?  His  arm  is  not  shortened,  why  then  should  we  fear  to 
trust  it?  O !  for  the  faitii  of  Jacob  to  wrestle  and  prevail !  O  !  for  the 
faith  of  the  apostles  !  '  I  know  that  my  Redeemer  livetli'  cannot  be  so 
earnestly  asserted,  even  in  these  days  of  light,  as  in  tlie  time  of  Job. — 
Well  may  we  beg  now,  '  Lord  teach  us  to  pray.'  I  find  my  warmth  in 
prayer  increase  in  a  ratio  to  the  attention,  with  which  I  perform  it  and 
all  other  religious  duties,  and  I  think  I  can  feel  my  warmth  increase  as 
I  am  more  engaged  in  prayer.  Prayer  seems  to  bend  God  down  to  us 
and  to  elevate  us  to  Him." 

And  then  in  devout  gratitude  he  makes  thi:3  donation  to 
his  parents,  praying  that  they  might  be  strengthened  for  the 
responsible  station  they  held  in  society  ;  praying  for 
them  who  had  so  often  prayed  for  him.  His  fondest 
thoughts  gathered  about  home,  he  pictures  the  happy  familj'', 
once  more  in  the  social  circle,  enjojdng  themselves  in  the 
recollections  of  ''xiuld  Lang  Syne"  and  thinks  "if  that  va- 
cant chair  were  filled,  the  cheerful  laugh  might  be  swelled 
still  louder  and  Richard  sent  still  oftener  for  buttered  toast.'' 

About  this  time,  the  quiet  of  Princeton  was  invaded  by  a 
young  Episcopal  friend  who  v/as  ''  so  high,  so  very  high 

church,  why    Dr.  ,  hanging    to  St.  John's  steeple  is 

nothing  to  this  fellow,  who  has  got  on  the  weathercock  and 
stood  on  tiptoe."  But  while  there  was  the  closest  intimacy 
between  him  and  the  young  Presbyterian,  heart  often  beat- 
ing against  heart,  undoubtedly  theology  was  the  occasion  of 
much  grave  debate,  and  each  polemic  was  of  his  own  opinion 


Before  the  year  is  half  over  an  appetite  for  study  awakens  ; 
and,  strang-e  to  tell,  for  the  Ilebrcw.  He  hopes  for  a  time 
of  reviving  : — 

*'  The  increasing  earnestness  of  prayer,  and  the  reviving  of  Christian 
graces,  seem  like  the  slight  rustling  before  tlie  storm.  I  feel  as  if  I  was 
better  in  my  religious  feelings  than  I  have  been.  Not  that  I  improve  as 
I  ought  in  Christian  grace,  but  I  feel  more  love  for  the  duties  of  the 
closet ;  more  desire  for  close  communion  with  that  God  from  whose 
p;!ths  I  liave  long  shamefully  and  ungratefully  wandered.  The  world, 
though  it  still  has  deep  hold  on  my  affections,  I  think  I  can  reject  with 
more  {irmness  than  formerly.  But  oh !  my  motlier,  what  a  heart  I 
liave !  IIow  prone  to  wander  !  So  enthusiastic  in  literature,  in  music,  in 
j>!itriotism,  and  yet  so  cold  and  so  dead  to  Ilim  v/ho  should  be  to  me,  the 
chiefest  among  ten  thousand  and  the  one  altogether  lovely.  When 
called  to  serve  an  earthly  friend,  I  have  been  active  and  earnest;  but 
called  to  follow  Ilim  who  sticketh  closer  than  a  brother,  I  have  sneaked 
to  a  distance  so  that  it  can  be  scarcely  said  whether  I  follow  Him  or  not. 
0,  thnt  the  Lord  would  descend  and  take  possession  of  my  heart.  It  is 
not  a  fit  dwelling  for  the  Lord  of  Hosts,  so  defiled  with  sin  and  evil 
thoughts ;  but  the  blood  of  Jesus  cleanseth  from  all  sin.  O,  that  he 
would  cleanse  it  for  himself,  that  he  would  root  out  all  uncleanliness 
and  help  me  to  tear  the  dearest  idol  from  my  heart  and  give  it  to  him 
alone.  I  think  I  feel  more  of  sense  of  duty  in  study  than  formerly.  I 
regarded  it  then  as  a  mere  worldly  requirement,  now  I  think  I  may  be 
sovf^ing  the  seed  of  a  harvest  which  may  add  to  the  granary  of  heaven, 
through  the  blessing  of  God  attending  my  labours  in  the  ministry. — 
Pray  for  me,  my  dear  mother,  pray.  I  need  prayers.  Prayers  from  a 
fiiithful  spirit  will  avail  much.  Prayer  opens  heaven,  the  poet  says. 
Oh,  what  a  blessed  privilege." 

Up  to  this  period  he  may  have  amused  himself  in  litera- 
ture, and  have  gone  through  the  college  recitations  ;  even  his 
father  complained  of  his  indolent  habits,  and  a  young-  friend 
fLincies  him,  "  A  fat  laughing  youth,  seated  in  a  big  cushioned 
chair  with  feet  cocked  up  over  a  rousing  fire,  segar  in  his 
mouth,  and  hands  in  the  breeches  pockets,"  the  picture  of 

48  MEMOIR    OF    GEO.    W.    BETIIUIVE,    D.  D. 

comfort  and  merry  enjoyment ;  but  from  this  date  there  is  a 

All  his  letters  speak  of  pleasure  in  study  ;  he  wrote, 
"during  the  whole  of  this  week,  not  a  single  evening  is 
without  its  appropriate  Society  ;  ''  and  it  was  his  con- 
stant cultivation  of  such  reunions,  that  ripened  his  powers 
of  extempore  speaking.  He  prepared  theological  essays 
on  one  of  the  most  difiBcult  metaphysical  subjects  ;  while 
Hebrew  is  still  a  bug-bear,  it  suffers  from  the  assaults  of 
violence.  He  says,  "I  never  sat  down  to  work  with  so 
much  zest ; "  and  there  are  records  of  immensely  hard 
days'  study.  He  became  a  contributor  to  a  monthly  maga- 
zine, published  in  Philadelphia  under  the  signature  of 

But  in  August,  1824,  a  great  trial  drew  near  him  : 

*'I  have  been  waiting  with  intense  anxiety  for  news  of  my  dear  father. 
Often  docs  my  prayer  ascend  to  heaven  for  him,  and  often  my  bed  is 
wakeful  with  my  thoughts  ofliim.  Never  did  I  feel  him,  however  dear  as 
he  was  before,  so  dear  as  now;  all  his  kindness,  patience  and  forbear- 
ance with  me  rise  to  ray  view.  Now  I  think  I  see  hira  as  he  was  once, 
healthful  and  vigorous ;  then  weak  and  fatigued,  yet  always  with  the 
sweet  smile  so  peculiarly  his  own.  In  my  college  days,  I  have  often 
written  with  all  the  romantic  fervour  of  youth  of  a  father's  affection  and 
filial  love,  but  now  those  descriptions  however  high  wrought  fall  short 
of  the  reality,  which  is  felt,  not  merely  imagined.  Yet  what  a  glorious 
and  soul  comforting  thought,  '  Like  as  a  father  pitieth  his  children,  so 
the  Lord  pitieth  them  that  fear  him.'  How  sweet  to  think  that  we  are 
in  his  hand  and  that  his  ear  is  always  open  to  our  cry.  But  then 
tliougli  these  are  sweet  and  encouraging  thoughts,  I  feel  myself  apt  to 
forget  my  God  and  my  dut}',  and  almost  murmur  against  his  righteous 
judgments,  and  have  to  breathe  the  prayer  of  the  sweet  Milman, 

'  Hear  all  our  prayer,  hear  not  our  murmurs,  Lord, 
And  though  our  lips  rebel,  still  make  thyself  adored.'" 

SEMI>'AHY   LIFE.  49 

Alas  I  that  valuable  diary  which  has  been  quoted  so 
often,  has  been  closed  for  some  months ;  the  father  has 
written  that  he  can  do  no  more  in  correspondence  than  send 
the  necessary  money  ;  he  has  sought  health  and  strength 
from  different  sources  in  vain,  and  God  has  determined  to 
take  his  faithful  servant  to  himself.  Never  did  son  have 
more  reason  to  love  and  thank  a  parent,  and  seldom  was 
the  debt  of  gratitude  better  repaid.  The  father  had  been  a 
pleasant  companion  ;  although  with  him,  religion  was 
the  chief  concern,  and  he  had  aimed  first  of  all  to  lead  him 
to  Jesus,  yet  he  was  a  man  of  letters  and  paid  his  court  to 
the  Muse,  so  that  he  could  sympathize  in  literary  progress 
and  the  domestic  conversations  were  adorned  with  tasteful 
and  witty  discussions.  Crying,  "  Let  me  go  home,  let  me 
go  to  my  Saviour  my  race  is  run  ;  my  work  is  done,  let  me 
go,"  his  wish  was  granted  on  the  IStli  of  Septembe]-,  1824. 
He  had  filled  a  larger  sphere  of  usefulness  than,  is  often  al- 
loted  to  laymen.  One  who  observed  him  in  active  business 
said,  ''  he  looked  all  the  time  as  serene  as  if  he  was  sitting  on 
down.''  Mrs.  Graham  wrote,  "  Divie  Bethune  stands  in  my 
mind,  in  temper,  conduct  and  conversation,  the  nearest  to  the 
gospel  standard  of  any  man  or  woman  I  ever  kuev\r  as  intim- 
ately. Devoted  to  his  God,  to  his  church,  to  his  family, 
to  all  to  whom  he  may  have  the  opportunity  of  doing  good, 
duty  is  his  governing  principle."  Friends  in  England  wrote 
that  a  sweet  savor  attaches  to  the  name  of  Bethune.  His 
dying  words  to  his  son  were  :  "  Preach  the  gospel,  my  son» 
tell  dying  sinners  of  a  Saviour,  mind  nothing  else  ;  it  is 
all  folly."  Blessed  be  God  for  such  an  honorable,  honored 
parent.  How  much  was  due  to  his  example,  his  faith  and 
his  prayers.  The  following  epitaph  presents  his  son's 
ideal : 

50  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

In  memory  of  Divie  Beihune, 

Died,  Sept.  18, 1824,  Aged,  53. 

Thirty  years  of  which  he  lived  in  the  City  of  New  York  an  honorable 
merchant,  a  faithful  citizen,  a  hospitable  gentleman,  and  a  de- 
vout elder  of  Chrisfs  Church.     He  spent  his  life  in 
serving  God,  and,  for  God's  sake,  his  fellow-men. 

^'Oh  thai  men  would  praise  the  Lord  for  His  goodness" 

This  event  brought  upon  him  a  new  burden  of  responsibil- 
ity. The  correspondents  of  his  father  desired  him  to  car- 
ry on  the  business,  and  as  it  had  been  one  of  extensive  repute 
and  great  success,  every  worldly  inducement  pointed  in 
that  direction.  But  all  such  solicitations  he  spurned,  feel- 
ing bound  to  follow  the  great  profession  to  which  he  had 
given  himself.  When  urged  to  allow  the  use  of  his  name,  and 
told  that  his  refusal  might  ruin  the  business,  his  answer  was, 
"Though  I  throw  away  a  fortune,  I  must  obey  the  dying 
commands  of  my  father.'' 

But  there  was  one  care  left  to  him,  that  of  his  widowed 
mother,  from  which  he  did  not  shrink,  but  supported  with 
all  the  affection  of  his  great  manly  heart,  and  thus  he  as- 
sumed the  task  : 

"  I  do  hope  and  pray  that  God  will  enable  me  so  to  conduct  myself, 
that  I  may  be  a  comfort  and  stay  to  my  mother,  and  though  my  con- 
science tells  me  that  I  have  often  wounded  you  and  roused  your  anxiety 
respecting  me,  and  though  I  fear  that  the  indiscretions  and  heedlessness 
of  youth  may  often  prove  detriments  to  my  designs,  yet,  it  is  my  firmest 
and  fondest  resolution  in  a  reliance  on  divine  aid,  to  be  indeed  a  son  and 
a  prop  to  my  widowed  mother." 


Noble  resolve,  and  most  faithfully  and  lovingly  was  it 
kept.  When  the  session  of  the  Seminary  began,  he  was  at 
his  post,  his  only  regret  being,  that  his  mother  was  "  seated 
by  a  lonely  hearth,  with  none  to  comfort,  none  to  console." 

Upon  a  visit,  he  became  more  impressed  with  her  deso- 
late condition,  and  proposed  to  sacrifice  for  her  comfort 
his  privileges  at  Princeton  : 

"The  path  of  duty  appears  to  me  very  dark,  wliether  I  should  stay 
here,  absent  from  her  whom  it  is  my  natural  duty  and  still  more  my 
fondest  desire  to  protect  and  solace,  or  return  to  her  to  cheer,  as  far  as 
possible,  her  loneliness,  at  the  expense  of  a  very  few  advantages.  Next  to 
my  God's,  I  am  my  mother's.  If  by  leaving  P.,  I  should  necessarily  in- 
terrupt my  studies  and  thereby  delay  my  fitness  for  the  responsible  work 
to  which  I  am  called,  or  if  by  leaving  this  I  should  necessarily  deprive 
myself  of  many  advantages,  which  nowhere  else  could  be  found,  the 
path  of  duty  would  be  clear,  and  God  would  order  things  as  well  with 
you  and  better  than  if  I  were  to  act  in  direct  contradiction.  But  the  case 
is  not  so.  In  New  York,  I  should  be  able  to  prosecute  my  studies  with 
almost  equal  advantages.  My  access  to  books  would  be  equally  free 
and  unlimited,  for  the  libraries  of  all  the  clergymen  would  be  open  to 

After  arguing  the  subject  at  considerable  length,  ingen- 
uously advocating  a  course  which  love  and  duty  prompted, 
with  characteristic  generosity,  he  concludes  by  making  one 
condition,  that  his  friend  Williams  might  be  permitted  to  re- 
main. "  I  am  not  so  selfish  as  to  wish  to  deprive  others  of 
advantages  which  duty  compels  me  to  forego,  or  to  wish 
others  to  choose  the  path  which  I  think  I  am  bound  to 
tread."  To  this  proposal  his  bereaved  parent  could  by 
no  means  consent;  but  it  affords  a  fine  illustration  of  that 
filial  affection  which  was  so  notable  a  trait  of  the  man, 
which   cheered   her   darkest   hours,   and    which   never   fainted 

52  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

even  in  her  days  of  cbildislmess,  nor   ceased  until  he    had 
closed  her  eyes  in  death. 

Study  was  now  vigorously  pursued  :  and  as  evidence  that 
the  theological  course  did  not  distract  him  from  former 
loves  and  elegant  pursuits,  he  writes  to  a  friend  in  England 
about  an  edition  of  "  Valpy's  Classics,''  which  was  expect- 
ed to  reach  one  hundred  volumes.  A  fellow  student  speaks 
of  his  new  parish  as  reminding  him  of  auld  lang  syne  : 

*'  When  I  sat  at  the  doors  of  the  cottages  of  my  poor  friends,  taking  a 
smoke  with  the  old  women,  I  have  thought  of  No.  22,  in  a  large  stone 
building  far,  far  away.  The  house  was  different,  the  company  different, 
the  pipe,  the  tobacco,  all  different,  still  the  associations  were  agreeable. 
I  am  sure  if  I  reflected  upon  anything  with  pleasure  it  was  the  recollec- 
tions of  the  theological  smoking  association  of  which  I  had  the  honor  to 
be  a  member." 

He  alludes  to  the  gift  of  the  muse  bestowed  upon  Be- 
thune,  which  was  confessed  by  all  his  young  compeers,  and 
might  have  reached  a  much  higher  standard  had  it  not  been 
restrained  by  a  sense  of  the  more  serious  and  important 
duties  set  before  him. 

Sensible  of  his  advantages,  there  was  about  the  young 
man  a  certain  uppish  air,  which  called  forth  the  following 
rebuke  from  his  careful  parent : 

"Pardon  a  mother's  anxiety,  my  beloved  son.  Beware  of  trusting 
in  riches,  and  that  vanity  of  heart  which  attends  the  possession  of  them. 
I  did  not  like  to  hear  you  talk  so  much  of  genteeliiy.  Remember  the 
Scriptures,  'If  any  man  would  be  great  among  you,  let  him  be  your 
minister.'  Xot  many  wise,  not  many  noble  are  called,  &c.  Condescend  to 
men  of  low  estate.  "Who  did  the  Great  lledeemer  choose  for  bis  asso- 
ciates? Fishermen,  tanners.  Nay,  was  he  not  to  appearance  the  son 
of  a  carpenter  ?  If  any  one  in  New  York  could  boast  of  genteeliiy,  it 
was  your  father;  even  the  great  of  this  world  were  his  relations;  yet 
even  I,  his  bo3om  friend,  never  heard  him  once  attach  any  value  to  it. 


and  his  first  religious  associcatcs  were  in  the  humblest  walks  in  life. 
The  first  prayer-meeting  he  joined,  he  was  tlie  only  merchant  among 
them.  A  cartman,  a  stonecutter,  a  tailor,  a  carpenter,  were  the  mem- 
bers ;  yet  I  have  often  heard  him  say,  that  by  the  mouth  of  one  of  these 
men,  his  path  of  duty  was  made  plain  to  him.  You  know  how  much  he 
vras  respected  by  all  ranks.  Nobody  ever  said  he  kept  low  company. 
Would  you  wish  to  become  truly  respectable  in  the  eyes  of  the  world? 
Tollow  your  father's  example." 

He  had  a  wise  monitor. 

About  this  time  we  date  an  intimacy  with  Dr.  John  0. 
Choules,  afterwards  the  distinguished  and  witty  Baptist 
Minister,  of  Newport,  E.  I.  In  some  way  old  Mr.  Bethune 
had  done  kindness  to  this  young  man,  lately  arrived  from 
England,  and  the  debt  of  gratitude  was  repaid  to  the  son, 
with  whom  was  maintained  a  cordial  friendship. 

Now  it  pleased  the  Lord  to  send  upon  his  widowed  pa- 
rent much  complication  in  business  matters,  attended  with 
considerable  loss  of  property.  She  meets  the  trial  like  a 
Christian,  and  her  son  "  rejoices  that  she  is  enabled  to 
throw  herself  so  confidently  upon  Plim  who  is  alone  able  to 
support.  I  trust  that  in  all  your  distresses  the  Lord  will 
hear  you,  in  the  day  of  trouble  the  name  of  the  God  of 
Jacob  may  defend  you,  send  you  help  from  the  sanctuary, 
and  strengthen  thee  out  of  Zion.'^  With  such  good  words 
did  these  children  of  the  covenant  comfort  each  others* 

In  February  of  this  year  there  came  another  sorrow,  in 
the  death  of  a  beloved  pastor,  the  Rev.  Dr.  J.  B.  Romeyn. 
He  died  of  a  broken  heart,  from  the  slanders  and  repeated 
attacks  of  persons  in  his  own  congregation.  In  his  delir- 
ium, he  took  a  text  and  preached  from  it.  "  Let  not  your 
hearts  be  troubled,"  &c.,  dispensed  the  communion,  calling 

54  MEMOIR    OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

Mr.  Bethune  to  "  take  the  cup,"  and  appealed  to  his  jKBople 
that  he  had  been  faithful  to  them,  and  was  free  from  their 
blood.  The  pious  family  mourned  over  his  loss,  as  if  one 
of  their  own  number  had  been  stricken.  Shortly  after  the 
young  theologian  desires  books  from  the  dear  Doctor's  li- 
brary. "If  there  are  an}^  sets  of  Poole,  Calvin,  Jonathan 
Edwards,  the  Biblia  Critica,  Turretin,  John  Howe,  Jeremy 
Taylor,  Horslej^,  Whitby,  Milner's  Church  History ;  the 
German  critics,  Koppe,  Kuinoel,  Rosenmuller,  Schultens,  it 
would  be  well  to  get  them.'^ 

An  event  occurred  in  the  summer  vacation,  which  made 
him  "the  happiest  mortal  on  the  face  of  the  earth. '^  His 
dear  Mary  yielded,  with  the  sanction  of  her  kind  father,  a 
return  for  that  attachment,  which,  from  the  days  of  his 
boyhood,  had  ever  bound  him  to  her.  He  informs  his 
mother,  with  the  delight  of  an  enthusiastic  lover  : 

**I  shall  leave  you  to  draw  the  picture  of  my  feelings  as  you  please, 
satisfied  that  no  coloring  would  be  too  rich.  To  find  that  all  those  gay 
dreams  which  brightened  my  boyhood,  but  wliich  opening  manhood 
viewed  as  too  much  like  enchantment  to  be  real,  are  now  realities ;  to 
be  blest  with  the  love  of  one  so  pure,  so  gentle,  so  lovely,  yet  so  fir 
above  me  in  prospects,  and  not  the  least  to  find  my  dear  mother  satis- 
fied with  all,  is  what  no  thankfulness  can  express,  no  gratitude  repay, 
and  of  which  none  bnt  God  Avho  knoweth  the  heart  can  estimate  the 
value.  Life  wears  to  me  a  new  aspect ;  new  motives,  new  inducements, 
new  hopes,  new  enjoyments  present  themselves  on  every  hand." 

The  prospect  of  this  alliance  gave  much  satisfaction  to 
his  remaining  parent,  who  welcomed  the  young  lady  as  her 
daughter,  and  as  her  son's  first  and  only  love  : 

"  Now  that  both  of  you  have  given  your  hearts  to  the  Lover  of  your 
souls,  and  your  attachment  Avill  be  strengthened  by  religion,  my  full 
heart  overflows  with  thankfulness  to  that  God  who  has  granted  my 

'  SEMINARY    LIFE.  55 

every  wish  for  my  beloved  George,  '  the  only  son  of  his  mother,  and  she 
a  widovr.'  I  shall  now  close  my  eyes  in  peace  ;  my  son  and  the  chosen 
of  Ids  heart  have  each  sought  the  kingdom  of  Christ  and  his  righteous- 
ness, and  the  promise  to  them  is,  that  all  other  blessings  will  be  added." 

The  correspondence  between  these  young  Christians  often 
assumed  a  tone  higher  than  that  of  ordinary  love-mak- 

"  But  why,"  he  says,  sympathizing  in  the  continued  illness  of  Miss 
Williams,  "but  why  seek  the  sorrowful  influences  of  memory,  Avhen 
hope  points  cheerily  onward,  and  like  a  good  prophet  speaks  of  days  of 
bliss,  and  hours  of  joy.  Blessed  be  the  man  whose  trust  is  in  the  Lord 
his  God ;  and  has  not  he,  who  spake  as  never  man  spake,  promised  to 
the  believing  spirit,  '  Lo,  I  am  with  you  alway,  even  unto  the  end  of  the 
world.'  Be  thy  promise,  Man  of  Sorrows,  Lord  of  Glory,  our  comfort, 
and  may  not  our  death,  but  our  life,  be  the  life  of  the  righteous,  and  our 
end  be  like  his.  Blessed  with  the  promises  of  God,  and  each  other's 
love,  we  may  challenge  life  to  do  its  worst  to  mar  our  happiness.  My 
desire  to  do  something  for  the  honor  and  glory  of  my  Master,  is,  I  believe 
and  hope,  true.  I  need  not  say,  how  much  I  desire  the  prayers  of  those 
who  love  me.  Pray  for  my  humility,  yet  confidence  in  the  discharge  of 
duty  ;  zeal,  yet  prudence ;  tenderness,  yet  faithfulness  in  all  my  preach- 
ing and  pastoral  duties  ;  for,  next  to  God  and  his  cause,  my  desire  is  that 
I  may  not  in  any  degree  fail  the  hopes  of  one  whose  hopes  will  be  linked 
with  mine,  and  who  must  share  all  my  misfortunes,  and  all  my  suc- 

This  engagement  soon  brought  with  it  responsibility,  and 
led  to  an  important  change  in  his  life.  In  the  autumn,  the 
health  of  Miss  Williams  began  to  decline,  and  Dr.  Post 
advised  that  her  life  could  only  be  saved  by  going  to  a 
warm  climate.  Who  should  be  her  escort  ?  The  youthful 
lover  could  not  resign  the  charge  to  another,  so  the  con- 
sent of  his  professors  was  obtained,  the  theological  course 
suspended  in  mid  career  ;  he  had  been  studying  about  two 
years  ;  and  a  sum  of  money  which  had  been  carefully  laid 

56  MEMOIR    OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

aside  by  his  futher  for  a  trip  to  Europe,  was  devoted  to  a 
wedding  tour  to  the  West  Indies.  The  first  plan  was  to  go 
to  the  South  of  France,  but  the  very  bad  symptoms  of  the 
invalid  compelled  a  more  speedy  change.  On  Nov.  4,  1825, 
the  marriage  was  consummated,  and  soon  the  happy  couple 
sailed  for  Havana,  in  the  ship  Berlin. 

Their  groomsman,  Mr.  Bleecker,  had  been  saved  from 
drowning  at  Rockaway,  by  young  Bethune,  at  the  risk  of 
his  own  life.  He  had  been  carried  beyond  his  depth,  and 
as  he  could  not  swim,  was  helpless.  The  intrepid  friend 
caught  him  as  he  came  up  the  third  time,  and  brought  him 
near  the  bank,  when  the  waves  dashed  them  on  the  beach. 
Bethune  soon  regained  his  powers,  but  it  was  with  great 
difficulty  that  Bleecker  was  restored. 

The  loss  at  Princeton  was  grievously  lamented.  It  was 
apprehended  that  the  Round  Table  would  go  down,  and  the 
Scandal  Club  become  extinct,  Mr.  Green  declaring  himself 
unable  to  support  it  without  Bethnne's  aid  : 

"  The  Professors  were  satisfied  with  the  propriety  of  your  conduct. 
Mr.  Hodge  said  but  little,  though  by  his  smiles  he  expressed  full  appro- 
bation. Dr.  Alexander  observed  (in  his  own  way),  that  the  circumstan- 
ces were  very  pecuUar,  and  spoke  in  very  flattering  terms  of  recommen- 
dation, of  your  originality  of  mind,  your  readiness  of  thought,  your  tal- 
ents as  a  speaker  and  preacher.  Dr.  Miller  very  gravely  observed,  '  that 
by  such  short-sighted  creatures  as  we  are,  it  would  be  termed  an  unfor- 
tunate occurrence,  but  he  thought  that  if  placed  in  the  same  situation, 
he  should  not  have  acted  otherwise,  adding  that,  even  in  Cuba,  one  pos- 
sessing Mr.  Bethune's  active  and  inquisitive  mind,  might  avail  himself 
of  many  means  of  improvement  from  the  opportunities  of  conversation 
with  learned  Catholic  Priests,  and  from  the  facilities  of  access  to  many  rare 
and  valuable  books.  " 

Princeton  could  then  boast  of  many  students  who  have 
since  become  eminent.     Dr.  Edward  N.  Kirk  was  a  resident 


graduate,  and  Drs.  Hutton,  Dickinson,  Jas.  Alexander,  Ers- 
Idne  Mason,  of  New  York  ;  Bishop  Mcllvaine  of  Ohio  ;  Dr. 
Piumraer  of  Ya.  ;  Drs.  T.  L.  Janeway,  John  W.  Nevin  of 
Pa.     Havana  was  reached,  and  the  jihicc  described  : 

"  The  first  object  which  striltes  the  eye  is  a  miserable  looking  pile, 
called  the  Moro  Castle.  It  stands  upon  a  projecting  rock  on  the  north- 
east side  of  the  liarfcour.  The  long  line  of  its  fortifications  continued  by  the 
immense  fortifications  of  the  Cabanas,  with  its  watch-tower,  its  loop- 
holes and  portals,  give  you  a  very  tolerable  idea  of  the  castles  of  the 
olden  time.  Passing  thence  up  the  small  river  which  forms  the  entrance 
of  the  harbour,  some  two  or  three  thousand  yards ,  you  anchor  in  the 
harbour  of  St.  Christopher  or  Havana.  On  every  side  there  are  moles  of 
immense  strength,  rendering  the  to^vn  completely  inaccessible  from  the 
sea,  by  any  hostile  force  however  great.  On  the  right  is  the  Castel  de 
la  Habana,  from  which  the  place  derives  its  name.  The  circumstances 
are  as  follows  :  In  the  year  1512,  Christopher  Columbus  discovered  the 
Island  of  Cuba  as  he  was  endeavoring  to  trace  the  course  of  the  Gulf 
Stream.  Landing  some  miles  to  windward,  he  followed  the  shore  until 
his  notice  was  attracted  by  the  harbor  of  this  now  flourishing  town.  In 
prosecuting  his  journey,  he  was  opposed  by  some  of  the  Indians,  who 
afler  a  little  resistance  fled  until  they  came  to  a  clump  of  wide  spreading 
trees,  peculiar  to  this  island.  They  there  met  a  gigantic  and  majestic 
female,  whom  they  considered  a  supernatural  being  whom  they  rever- 
enced under  the  name  of  the  Habana,  and  then  partly  by  force  and 
partly  by  stratagem,  were  led  to  form  a  rude  treaty  with  Columbus,  who 
in  gratitude  to  God,  celebrated  mass  under  two  of  the  largest  trees,  which 
are  still  standing  and  luxuriant,  and  took  possession  of  the  place  in  the 
name  of  Spain.  They  built  a  rude  fort,  calling  it,  to  please  the  natives, 
Habana.  The  Spanish  soldiers  took  possession  of  the  country  t^vo  years 
after.  As  you  pass  along  the  quay  under  the  battlements  of  the  Habana, 
you  are  struck  by  the  singular  appearance  of  all  around  you. 

First,  of  the  houses  ;  they  are  chiefly  constructed  of  a  crumbling 
stone,  covered  with  a  thick  layer  of  plaster,  built  in  the  form  of  a  quad- 
rangle, the  centre  of  which  is  open,  communicating  by  an  arched  gate- 
way with  the  street. 

Ascending  a  flight  of  stairs,  you  find  yourself  in  a  gallery  extend- 

58  3IEM0IR   OF   GEO.    Y*'.    BETIIUNE,    D.  D. 

ing  on  every  side  of  the  quadrangle,  from  -which  doors  open  to  the 
several  apartments.  The  windows  are  closed  and  barred,  which  with 
the  massive  pillars  and  arched  doorways,  seem  more  like  prison-houses 
or  castles,  than  peaceful  domiciles.  It  is  easy,  however,  to  see  thali 
though  gloomy  in  appearance,  at  first,  they  are  in  reality  the  most  con- 
venient that  can  be  made.  The  thick  walls  from  four  to  six  feet  through, 
the  heavy  tiled  roof  and  the  shaded  galleries,  sufficiently  exclude  the 
sun,  while  the  open  windows  give  free  circulation  to  the  air  which  is  re- 
tained by  the  plaster  floors.  Then  the  singular  veliicles  called  volantes 
call  for  notice.  They  are  not  unlike  a  large  old-fashioned  chaise  depend- 
ing from  the  axis  of  two  very  liigh  wheels,  supported  at  the  other  ex- 
tremity by  shafts,  which  are  borne  by  a  horse  or  mule,  according  to  the 
purse  or  caprice  of  the  owner.  On  the  back  is  seated  the  Calasero, 
or  driver.  It  is  not  uncommon  to  see  three  persons  in  the  volante 
and  a  footman  behind,  drawn  by  one  poor  brute  with  his  driver 
on  his  back.  They  are,  however,  very  safe ;  and,  with  the  exception 
of  five  coaches,  are  the  only  carriages  used  on  the  Island.  Another 
thing  which  strikes  the  eye  of  the  foreigner  is  the  number  of  sol- 
diers, which  amounts  to  six  or  seven  thousand  in  the  city  alone,  which 
within  the  walls,  contains  only  sixty  or  seventy  thousand  people,  though 
the  suburbs  contain,  possibly,  as  many  more.  The  churches  are  large, 
but  with  the  exception  of  the  Cathedral,  (containing  the  bones  of  Colum- 
bus, and  really  a  fine  building,)  are  huge  and  unshapely.  The  monks 
though  numerous,  are  not  so  numerous  as  previous  to  the  first  adoption 
of  the  Constitution.  To  give  you  some  idea  of  their  licentious  life  and 
the  general  state  of  religion,  I  need  only  say,  that  I  saw  on  Sunday,  at 
tlie  same  time  that  high  mass  was  performing  in  the  Chapel,  a  party  of 
friars  at  whist  in  one  of  the  cells.  There  is  also  a  gambling  house  imme- 
diately opposite  the  church,  supported  entirely  by  the  monks." 

But  the  destination  of  the  party  was  Matanzas,  where  a 
house  furnished  was  generously  oflered  for  their  use.  Here 
they  set  up  a  small  establishment,  taking  a  poor  orphan, 
Miss  Gerard,  under  their  protection,  and  beginning  that 
life  of  kindness  which  was  a  leading  feature  in  their  history. 

It  was  the  practice  of  Mrs.  Joanna  Bethune  to  write 
to  her  son  regularly  on  the  18th  of  March,  and  she  does  so 
In  this  year,  1826,  to  the  following  purport  : 


**And  what,  my  dear  George,  do  you  think  this  day  recalls  to  my  mind  ? 
More  than  I  can  tell,  of  him  who,  twenty  one  years  ago,  first  opened  his 
eyes  on  time.  You  miglit  indeed  have  been  called  by  your  beloved  fatlier, 
%vhat  the  people  of  France  called  their  king,  '  Le  Desire ; '  so  anxious 
was  he  to  liave  a.  son,  that  he  might  devote  him  to  the  Lord.  Oh  the 
prayers,  the  tears,  the  anxious  desires  that  have  been  poured  out  and  ex- 
pressed before  a  throne  of  grace  for  you,  my  dear  son.  See  to  it  that  you 
*be  not  negligent.'  If  you  have  no  opportunity  of  benefiting  others, 
which  I  hope  you  may,  be  much  in  prayer  and  reading  the  Scriptures, 
that  you  may  gain  that  spiritual  knowledge  without  which  all  other 
knowledge  will  be  a  curse  rather  than  a  blessing,  in  the  profession  you 
have  chosen.  Your  father  alv/ays  esteemed  it  a  peculiar  blessing,  tliat 
before  he  entered  into  business  or  married,  he  had  a  season  of  leisure 
to  study  and  pray  over  the  word  of  God.  The  diligent  use  that  he  made 
of  that  season  was  useful  to  him  all  his  after  life  ;  and  made  him,  even 
a  layman,  eminently  useful  to  others,  which  you  know.  *  Whatsoever  thy 
hand  findeth  to  do,  do  it  with  thy  might,'  ought  to  be  the  motto  of  every 
Christian.  Time  is  passing,  the  prophecies  fulfilling,  let  us  press  into 
the  ranks  of  those  that  are  on  the  Lord's  side,  that  we  also,  however  fee^ 
ble  in  ourselves,  may  be  instruments  in  God's  hand  of  bringing  in  the 
great  and  glorious  day  when  all  shall  know  him  from  the  least  unto  the 

We  shall  see  how,  until  late  in  life,  Mr.  Bethune  was 
aided,  encouraged,  warned  and  stimulated,  by  a  constant 
succession  of  such  noble  letters,  and  how  well  the  son  ap- 
preciated his  privilege.  In  answer  to  the  above  he 
writes  : 

'*Matanzas,  April  i. 
"I  received,  some  days  since,  a  previous  letter  by  way  of  Havana, 
which  gave  me  pain,  because  I  learned  from  it  that  one  of  mine  had 
caused  pain  to  you,  though  He  that  knoweth  the  heart,  knew  nothing 
was  farther  from  my  intentions.  With  sorrow  and  regret,  I  sincerely 
crave  your  pardon,  and  my  kind  and  forgiving  mother  will,  I  am  sure, 
remember  that  there  are  some  chords  in  the  heart  which  are  more  mor- 
bidly sensitive  than  others ;  and  I  must  say  that  the  thought  of  being  a 
married  man  with  nothing  to  support  my  wife,  and  no  immediate  pros- 

GO  MEMOIR    OF   GEO.    \V.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

pect  of  making  anything,  is  to  me  exquisitely  painful.     But  on  this 
subject  I  have  done. 

You  ask  me  in  your  last,  if  I  find  any  opportunities  of  usefulness 
about  me.  There  is  perhaps,  no  place  where  such  opportunities  may 
not  be  found,  if  sought  for.  But  there  is  scarcely  any  place  -vrhere  few- 
er are  to  be  found  than  here.  I  had  hopes  to  do  some  good  among  the 
negroes  of  the  plantation,  but  they  do  not  understand  any  English  what- 
ever ;  and  are  most  bigoted  and  ignorant  Catholics.  The  most  of  the 
foreigners  are  hooters  at  religion,  and  so  fearful  is  the  Government  of 
anything  like  Protestantism,  that  my  being  connected  with  the  clerical 
profession,  almost  lost  me  my  passport ;  and  nothing  but  high  bribes  to 
the  Custom  House,  saved  my  two  trunks  of  books  from  forfeiture  for 
heresy.  Were  it  known  that  I  attempted  religious  instruction,  impris- 
onment or  banishment  would  be  more  certainly  the  consequence,  than 
if  I  murdered  or  robbed.  Still  I  hope  the  great  day  may  reveal  some  lit- 
tle good,  of  doing  which  I  may  have  been  the  means  in  the  Island  of 
Cuba. " 

Some  effort  was  made  with  the  house-servants,  which 
was  his  first  hibor  among  the  blacks,  in  whom  he  afterwards 
became  much  interested.  He  taught  tliem  to  read,  sing 
hymns,  and  gave  such  moral  instruction  as  he  could.  The 
family  was  increased  by  a  young  Bostonian,  wliora  Mr. 
Bethunc  rescued  from  a  band  of  soldiers,  who  threatened 
him  with  the  bayonet  because  he  would  not  kneel  before  the 
host  which  the  priests  were  carrying  through  the  streets  of 
Matanzas  ;  fleet  horses,  and  the  feint  of  having  pistols  in 
their  breasts,  saved  them.  Now  that  they  were  known  as 
Protestants,  they  always  carried  pistols  in  their  holsters, 
in  fact,  Mr.  Bethune  slept  with  them  under  his  pillqw 
from  his  first  arrival.  In  April,  1826,  they  left  this  inhospit- 
able island,  and  brought  along  a  little  Spanish  maiden,  wlio 
was  taught  to  love  Jesus,  and  in  later  life  returned  to  do 
good  among  her  friends  ;  after  spending  a  few  pleasant  days 
in  Charleston,  they  proceeded  to  Pliiladelphia  and  New 

From  this  period  the  correspondence  becomes  voluminous, 


and  would  be  of  itself,  when  arranged  in  order,  a  full  and 
almost  sufficient  memoir  ;  five  thousand  letters  of  all  kinds 
have  been  examined  and  noted  ;  a  due  selection  of  these 
will  be  inserted  in  their  proper  places,  and  they  will  in  many 
instances  tell  their  own  story  without  the  help  of  remark. 

Perhaps  it  will  interest  our  readers  to  know  that  in  the 
large  share  of  this  mass  of  manuscript  which  is  in  Dr.  Be- 
thune's  handwriting  we  have  discovered  not  one  careless  or 
ungrammatical  expression,  and  only  one  orthographical  error. 
This  frightful  crime  amounts  to  an  "1''  too  much  in  "  thank- 
ful ■  ^  and  had  he  not,  in  other  places,  given  in  his  adherence 
to  the  use  of  the  single  labial,  might  have  considered  him- 
self borne  out  by  partial  usage  and  not  altogether  despi- 
cable authority.     We  suspect  that  his  pen  slipped. 

Solomon  has  used  a  vigorous  expression  touching  the 
effect  of  dead  flies  upon  the  ointment  of  the  apothecary ; 
and  the  only  effect  of  that  questionable  "1"  is  to  call  at- 
tention to  our  writer's  sensitive  purity  in  matter  of  style 
and  diction. 

Rev.  J.  McElroy  D.D.  to  G.  W.  B.  ''June  13,  182G. 

*'  My  Dear  Sir  :  I  received  your  communication  three  days  ago,  and 
should  gladly  have  replied  to  it  immediately,  but  have  hitherto  been  pre- 
vented.    I  have  now  only  time  to  -vvrite  a  few  lines. 

We  will  agi'ec  in  opinion,  that  had  it  been  practicable  for  you  to  spend 
another  year  at  the  Seminar}-,  it  would  have  been  better  for  you,  and 
better  for  the  cause  which  I  trust  we  both  love ;  better  for  you,  as  you 
Avould  thus  have  been  more  amply  furnished  for  the  arduous  work  you 
have  in  view,  and  better  for  the  cause,  inasmuch  as  you  would  thus  have 
been  able  to  exert  a  still  greater  efficiency  in  advancing  the  Redeemer's 
interests.  But  under  all  the  circumstances  of  your  situation,  I  am 
clearly  of  the  opinion  that  you  should  be  licensed,  and  you  need  appre- 
hend no  difficulty  in  the  way  of  that  event. 

I  take  the  liberty  of  assigning  you,  as  the  subject  of  a  popular  SQr« 

Q2  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHT  XE,    D.  D. 

mon,  Galatians  vi.,  v.  14,  stopping  at  the  word  'Christ.'     'But  God 
forbid  that  I  should  glory  sare  in  the  cross  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ.' 
Wishing  you,  my  dear  sir,  the  Master's  presence  and  blessing, 
I  am  very  truly  yours." 

The  license  to  preach  came  from  the  Second  Presbytery 
of  New  York  and  is  dated  July  11,  1826.  The  family  were 
accustomed  during  the  summer  to  resort  to  Rockaway,  and 
Mr.  Bethune's  first  sermon  before  the  public  was  preached 
in  a  school-house  near  by,  from  the  same  text  that  had  been 
assigned  by  Dr.  McElroy  ;  in  this  place,  Mrs.  J.  Bethune  had 
already  established  a  Sunday  School. 

G.  W.  B.  TO  Mrs.  Joaxxa  Bethune.  "Salem,  Auj.   7,   1826. 

''  My  Dear  Mother  :  "We  arrived  here  in  safety,  but  at  a  house  of 
mourning,  on  Saturday.  Dear  little  Alexander  had  a  return  of  the  com- 
plaints which  have  troubled  him  since  his  birth,  ....  and  on  Saturday 
afternoon  the  dear  sufferer  exchanged  this  world  of  sin  and  sorrow  for 
the  presence  of  Ilim  who  said :  '  Except  ye  become  as  little  children  ye 
cannot  see  the  kingdom  of  God.'  Poor  dear  Mary's  grief  Avas  excessive, 
but  her  sweet  Christian  spirit,  upheld  by  the  consolations  of  the  Gospel, 
has  recovered  at  least  calmness  and  resignation.  The  Colonel  feels  it 
very  much ;  his  heart  was  Avrapped  up  in  him.  It  has  affected  me  very 
much.  I  have  never  loved  a  child  of  his  age  so  much  since  John  Mason 
DuiHeld.  .  .  .  The  funeral  took  place  yesterday.  Of  course  I  was 
silent  during  the  whole  of  the  day,  though  very  much  urged  to  preach 
by  the  Doctor.  I  received  yours,  with  the  enclosure,  a  short  time  ago, 
for  which  I  thank  you  sincerely.  ...    I  must  manage   in  some  way  to 

preach  one  day  in  Troy.     Mr.  has  been  very  imprudent,  and  Ms 

congregation  is  much  displeased  with  his  mode  of  preaching.  He  points 
at  individual  members  from  the  pulpit,  and  repeats  what  he  has  heard 
they  have  said  during  the  week. 

Your  affectionate  and  grateful  son." 

The  rest  of  the  summer  and  autumn  were  occupied  in  a 
preaching  tour  through  Western  New  York,  when  the 
young  candidate  appeared  before  different  audiences  ;  he 
also  distributed  Bibles  and  Tracts  in  destitute  places. 

VISIT   TO   TUE   SOUTH.  63 

G.  W.  B,  TO  Mrs.  J.  B.  "  Saratoga,  August  15,  1826. 

My  Dear  Mother;  I  arrived  here  this  evening  from  Salem,  ex- 
pecting to  find  Mc  Cartee,  in  which  I  am  both  disappointed  and  alarmed, 
fearful  lest  sickness  either  of  himself  or  of  the  family  may  have  de- 
tained him.  He  should  certainly  have  written  to  me  and  not  left  me  to 
go  about  the  country  in  this  way  after  him.  I  am  without  any  creden- 
tials whatever  (having  trusted  to  having  him  with  mc)  and  am  yet  on  a 
preaching  tour.  I  preached  for  Dr.  Proudfit  twice  last  Sabbath,  I 
believe  to  the  satisfaction  of  my  friends.  0  I  that  I  might  be  able  to 
say  it  was  convincing  to  the  hearts  of  sinners.  Well  might  we  ex- 
claim What  is  man !  and  yet  O  the  consolation  and  encouragement  of 
that  promise  or  rather  declaration,  *  It  pleased  God  through  the 
foolishness  of  preaching,'  not  the  wisdom,  *  to  save  them  that  believe.'" 

G.  W.  B.  to  Mrs.  J.  B.  "Salem,  SepL  15,  1826. 

I  had  hoped  to  have  preached  in  Troy,  as  a  fine  church  is  about  to  be 
organized  in  that  place,  but  was  disappointed.  It  seems  strange  that  I 
have  never  yet  preached  in  a  vacancy.  I  pass  my  time  here  in  study 
chiefly,  though  under  some  disadvantages  from  want  of  books.  There 
is  very  little  society  out  of  the  immediate  family. 

Do  you  know  when  the  Examination  at  Princeton  is  ?  I  have  entirely 
forgotten  the  day,  but  wish  to  be  there  to  see  my  classmates  once  more 
before  they  separate  forever.  I  suppose  it  would  give  you  some  pleasure 
to  learn  that  my  preacliing  in  Albany  gave  very  great  satisfaction  to  one 
of  the  most  sensible  and  judicious  congregations  there.  If  he  whose 
cause  I  serve  would  but  make  it  means  of  making  some  wise  unto  salva- 
tion, how  much  richer  the  pleasure!" 

Savannah,  Nov.  6.  Mrs.  Bethune  and  he  have  arrived 
safely  at  this  city  after  a  pleasant  passage,  having 
preached  on  board  the  vessel  to  a  congregation  of  ninety 

G.  W.  B.  TO  Mrs.  J.  B.  "  Savannau,  Nov.  12. 

I  have  been  working  since  I  have  been  here.  I  preached  to  a  large 
congregation  of  negroes  and  whites  in  the  negro  church  on  Tliursday 
evening.  For  Mr.  How  ail  day  yesterday  in  a  very  large  church  and 
congregation,  made  an  address  and  opened  the  Sunday  school  and 
preached  to  a  crammed,  overflowing  house  in  the  negro  church  at  night. 

64  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

I  love  this  place  very  much,  there  seems  to  be  a  vast  deal  of  Christian 
spirit  and  zeal,  and  the  people  generally,  especially  the  poor  negroes, 
seem  anxious  to  hear.  They  are  in  point  of  privilege  many  degrees 
above  the  blacks  in  Charleston." 

*'  Savannah,  Nov.  26,  1826. 

My  Dear  Mothek  ;  You  should  have  heard  of  me  sooner  since  my 
last,  but  that  my  time  has  been  occupied  in  going  to  and  returning  from 
Augusta.  I  am  sorry  that  I  am  unable  to  state  my  prospects  for 
the  winter  because  as  yet  I  have  none.  Augusta  is  at  present  in  a  very 
unsettled  state.  They  have  had  a  Unitarian  among  them,  and  they  have 
promised  him  a  thousand  dollars  a  year  to  come  to  them.  The  Presby- 
terian and  Episcopalian  ministers,  have  both  been  attacked  as  to  their 
character  for  sobriety,  and  though  the  charges  have  been  investigated  and 
jn-oved  to  be  false,  there  are  many  who  yet  believe  and  endeavor  to 
spread  them.  When  I  sent  up  my  letter,  it  was  taken  no  notice  of. 
But  when  in  Augusta  last  week  I  was  told  by  one  of  the  session  that 
they  anticipated  much  pleasure  from  my  being  in  Augusta,  because 
Avere  there  no  other  minister  there,  I  could  supply  them.  They  thought 
that  I  would  come  at  any  rate,  and  would  be  a  kind  of  co7-ps  de  reserve,  a 
kind  of  forlorn  hope  to  do  when  no  other  could  be  found.  They  seemed 
to  have  no  idea  of  inviting  to  a  regular  supply.  The  good  people  of 
Savannah  seem  very  anxious  to  keep  me  here  and  indeed  I  am  desir- 
ous of  staying.  I  know  no  place  where  I  may  be  more  useful  than  this, 
while  I  remain  at  the  South.  I  have  not  been  idle.  I  have  preached,  or 
shall  have  preached  to-morrow  evening,  should  God  give  hfe  and  strength, 
twelve  times  in  sixteen  days,  besides  addresses,  and  travelling  three  hun- 
dred miles.  I  will  preach  under  the  Bethel  flag  on  board  a  ship,  to- 
morrow. I  am  fulfilling  as  far  as  possible  the  command  to  preach  the 
gospel  to  the  poor ;  for  negroes  and  sailors  are  my  favorite  auditors.  Can 
I  have  any  more  tracts,  little  books  for  children  and  sailors'  tracts 
especially  ?  I  have  abundant  use  for  many  more  than  I  have,  and  I  hate 
to  be  economical  of  the  Bread  of  Life." 

♦*  Savannah,  Dec.  11,  1826. 

You  must  have  received  before  tliis  my  letter  containing  an  account 
of  my  visit  to  Augusta,  and  I  am  confident  that  so  far  from  regretting 
that  I  have  not  obtained  that  situation,  you  must  rejoice,  owing  to  the 
unpleasant  state  of  feeling  and  things  there  existing.     One  thing  is 


certain  that  I  have  been  treated  very  cavalierly  by  those  gentlemen, 
and  with  the  exception  of  the  expense  I  was  at  in  going  there,  I  regret 
nothing  more  than  that  I  exposed  myself  to  their  neglect. 

Immediately  upon  my  arrival  here,  a  path  of  usefulness  seemed  to  be 
opened  to  me  which  I  would  have  left  with  regret  for  the  most  splendidly 
endowed  situation  our  church  has  within  its  bounds.  Nor  would  I  have 
left  it  but  from  the  conviction  that  your  wishes  and  my  own  necessi- 
ties demanded  my  seeking  some  employment,  which,  while  it  i)rom- 
ised  usefulness  in  ray  Master's  cause,  promised  also,  some  means  for 
my  support.  The  prospect  even  of  such  a  situation,  Providence  seemed 
to  deny  me.  Wilmington  I  had  kept  as  a  forlorn  hope,  because  the  ex- 
posed situation  in  which  it  stands  to  the  sea,  would,  had  I  taken  it,  have 
demanded  my  separation  from  Mary.  On  Friday  evening,  however, 
Mr.  How,  who  has  been  very  attentive  to  me  since  I  have  been  here, 
called  upon  me  at  the  instance  of  the  Board  of  directors  of  the  City  Mis- 
sionary Society,  to  request  me  to  remain  as  their  Missionary  at  the  sal- 
ary of  fifty  dollars  per  month,  which  after  a  prayerful  consideration  of 
two  days,  from  the  prospect  of  usefulness  afforded  me,  I  have  been  in- 
duced to  accept.  My  labors  shall  be  devoted  in  a  primary  degree  to  the 
sailors  and  the  poor.  Among  the  sailors  my  engagements  are  pecul- 
iarly delightful.  To  the  number  of  two  hundred  and  fifty,  they  crowd 
around  me,  and  listen  with  the  most  breathless  attention,  and  receive 
their  tracts  with  a  grateful  expression,  which  is,  I  hope,  indicative  of 
good  feeling.  The  mildness  of  the  climate  enables  me  to  preach  on 
the  deck  of  the  ship.  But  it  is  not  to  the  sailors  alone  that  my  ad- 
dresses are  directed.  There  is  a  large  number  of  men,  chiefly  young 
men,  who  never  attend  regular  service,  who  follow  me  wherever  I  go, 
and  to  whom  I  hope  the  Lord,  through  me,  may  communicate  some 
lasting  instruction.  The  poor  blacks  also  assemble  in  great  numbers, 
when  they  know  I  am  to  preach,  because  they  say,  "  I  talk  so  plain.  I 
no  use  big  words.  I  talk  plain."  My  meetings  during  the  week  are 
held  on  Tuesday  evening,  when  I  hope  to  have  a  full  house  from  the 
attendance  of  the  inhabitants  of  a  part  of  the  town  which  corresponds 
to  the  "Hook"  in  the  city  of  New  York.  I  assist,  occasionally,  the 
ministers  here,  Baptist,  Presbyterian,  and  Methodist,  black  and  white, 
so  that  I  seldom  preach  less  than  six  or  seven  times  during  the  seven 
days,  if  extemporaneous  addresses  can  be  called  sermons.  For  except 

(jQ  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

in  the  large  churches,  for  which  I  always  write,  I  preach  without  writ- 
ing. Such  are  my  prospects  and  my  engagements.  If  I  have  done 
wrong  in  making  them,  I  hope  I  shall  be  forgiven  by  my  mother  and  my 
God.  It  was  not  without  many  an  anxious  prayer,  and  careful  exami- 
nation that  I  thus  determined.  It  belongs  to  man  to  err,  and  although 
this  is  no  excuse  with  God,  it  may  be  some  palliation  with  an  affection- 
ate mother. " 

*•  Savannah,  Dec.  28. 
I  preach  frequently  for  the  blacks,  and  Mr.  How,  so  that  I  seldom 
preach  less  than  three  times  on  the  Sabbatli,  and  twice  or  thrice  during  the 
week.  I  have  enough  labor,  that  is  certain,  whether  I  do  any  good  or 
not,  the  Lord  only  knows.  I  preached,  or  rather  delivered  an  address 
for  the  Sabbath  school  in  this  place,  and  obtained  for  it  about  seventy 
dollars,  about  three  times  as  much  as  they  were  ever  able  to  obtain  be- 
fore. They,  however,  go  on  a  poor  plan  here,  they  teach  none  to  read, 
considering  the  free  schools  as  sufficient.  They  employ  themselves 
solely  about  instruction  from  the  Bible.  This  is  very  good,  indeed,  the 
principal  tiling,  but  the  other  should  not  be  neglected."* 

The  fact  was,  that  his  knowledge  of  the  character  of  sea- 
men, together  with  his  perfect  familiarity  with  nautical 
phrases,  and  sea  life,  rendered  his  services  among  sailors  ex- 
tremely popular  and  successful.  One  of  his  hearers  expressed 
the  idea  :  "  I  like  to  hear  3^ou  because  you  know  the  ropes. ^' 
While  in  Savannah  and  preaching  in  the  Bethel  Chapel,  the 
Pastor  of  the  Presbyterian  Church  proposed  an  exchange. 
To  this  proposal  Mr.  Bethune  was  slow  to  respond  well  know- 
ing Jack's  dislike  to  see  "  a  new  hand  at  the  wheel.''  But 
after  due  warning  of  the  peculiarity  of  his  salt-water  congre- 
gation, consent  was  given.  During  the  ensuing  week,  he, 
meeting  one  of  his  charge,  naturally  inquired  how  the  boys 
liked  the  minister  whom  he  had  sent.  Jack  bluntly  con- 
demned him  and  called  him  "an  old  land-lubber.''  '*Ah," 
said  the  Pastor,  "  that  is  wrong,  you  must  not  call  the  min- 
ister of  the  gospel  a  land-lubber."     "  Yes,  but  he  is  a  land- 

VISIT    TO    THE   SOUTH.  67 

lubber  ;  "  replied  the  tar.  "  Why,  he  talked  about  the  anchor 
of  hope,  and  spun  a  long  yarn,  of  a  storm  at  sea  and  a  ship 
coming  near  land  and  in  the  very  breakers :  Then  he 
said,  '  what  would  you  do  but  heave  out  your  anchor  ? ' 
Now,  in  such  a  case,  I'd  like  to  know,  what  in  creation  we 
could  do  with  an  anchor?  No,  no,  we  would  order  all 
hands  on  deck  and  try  to  claw  her  off  shore."  So  the  sailor 
walked  off  triumphantly,  feeling  justified  in  his  assertion. 
Dr.  Bethune,  in  after  life,  often  told  this  anecdote  with  great 
G.  W.  B.  TO  Mrs.  J.  B.  "  Savannah,  Jan.  12,   1827. 

Your  tracts  arrived  very  seasonably.  I  was  just  out,  and  knew  not 
where  to  turn  for  more.  On  Sabbath  last  however,  my  captains  came 
around  me  after  I  had  preached  from  tliat  passage  in  Proverbs  ;  — '  He 
that  hath  friends  must  shew  himself  friendly,  and  there  is  a  friend  that 
sticketh  closer  than  a  brother '  —  and  said  that  they  ought  to  shew  them- 
selves friendly,  and  proposed  that  on  the  next  Sabbath  I  should  take  up 
a  collection  for  tracts,  after  service.  This  will  be  to-morrow.  My  audien- 
ces rather  increase  than  diminish,  and  their  attention  is  unequalled  by 
any  congregation  I  have  ever  preached  to,  and  I  have  more  than  once 
seen  tears  streaming  down  a  hard  weather-beaten  check. 

One  interesting  circumstance  I  must  mention,  that,  on  board  of  the 
Scotch  sliip  where  I  preached  this  morning,  there  was  a  larger  attendance 
than  at  any  time  previous,  and  you  might  notice  the  crew  with  each  liis 
Bible,  turning  to  the  text,  as  if  they  were  in  the  kirk  at  home.  The 
'  tract  collection',  amounted  to  fifteen  dollars  and  fifty  cents,  whereas  my 
brightest  hopes  did  not  extend  beyond  five  dollars.  One  old  fellow  came 
up  with  two  cents  between  his  finger  and  thumb,  remarking  tliat  he 
would  give  more  to-morrow  Avhen  he  was  paid  off." 

"  Savannah,    Feb.  24,  1827. 
I  received  some  thirteen  thousand  tracts  by  the  Louisa  Matilda,  with 

a  very  polite  note  from  Mr. the  Depositary.      I  am  much  obliged 

to  you  for  your  trouble,  and  am  very  much  pleased  with  the  selection, 
except  that  some  which  were  sent  might  have  been  substituted  for 
*  The  Swearer's  Prayer.'  I  am  very  thankful  for  the  fifty  dollars.  At 
the  time  I  received  it,  we  had  not  three  dollars  in  the  world,  and  a  month 

68  MEiMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

to  go  before  any  would  be  due,  much  less  paid.  But  the  Lord  will  take 
care  of  me.  I  fear  it  not :  Something  more  than  fifty  dollars  a  month  is 
necessary  to  do  it  with,  however,  unless  the  ravens  bring  us  our  food." 

Br.  How*  gives  the  following  account  of  his  work  at 
Savannah  :  — 

*'  Besides  the  sailors,  a  very  considerable  number  of  the  citizens  of 
Savannah,  and  among  them  some  of  the  most  respectable  and  intelli- 
gent and  influential  men,  habitually  attended  our  young  pastor's  preach- 
ing, and  there  is  reason  to  believe  that  his  ministry  was  useful  to  all 
classes  of  his  hearers.  The  fidelity  with  which  he  set  forth  the  great 
and  fundamental  truths  of  the  Gospel,  the  earnestness  with  which  he 
pressed  them  on  the  attention  of  his  hearers ;  and  the  eloquence  and 
power  with  which  he  spoke,  arrested  their  close  attention,  and  produced 
attding  impressions  on  their  minds.  His  ministry,  I  doubt  not,  was 
highly  useful  and  instrumental  in  leading  some  of  his  hearers  to  un- 
feigned repentance  and  faith  in  Christ.  He  occasionally  preached  to  the 
slaves,  especially  to  those  on  a  plantation  in  the  neighborhood  of  the 
city,  belonging  to  an  eminently  pious  lady.  "While  they  greatly  admired 
his  preaching,  they  also  became  strongly  attached  to  him,  because  of  his 
kind,  familiar  and  gentlemanly  intercourse  Avith  them.  The  slaves  on 
this  plantation,  as  also  on  a  very  large  number  of  the  plantations  in  the 
South,  belonged  to  the  Baptist  Denomination.  One  of  them  was  a 
Baptist  preacher,  strongly  attached  to  liis  particular  Church  and  confi- 
dent that  they  were  preeminently  distinguished  for  holding  Christian 
truth  and  practice  in  greater  purity  than  they  are  held  by  any  other  re- 
ligious body  of  Christians.  He  became  very  much  interested  in  Dr. 
Bethune,  and  strongly  attached  to  him.  I  have  heard  the  Doctor  very 
pleasantly  repeat  the  following  incident  concerning  this  preacher :  he 
was  expressing  to  Dr.  Bethune  his  approval  and  admiration  of  his 
preaching,  when  he  suddenly  changed  his  tone  with  much  earnestness, 
*But,  Massa,  in  the  Millennium  they  '11  all  be  Baptists.'  The  Doctor  re- 
ceived tliis  information  without  dispute.^' 

In  later  years  Dr.  Bethune  spoke  gratefully  of  the  wise 
counsel  given  by  this  excellent  minister.    He  was  inexperi- 

*  Eev.  Saml.  B.  How,  D,  D.,  now  of  New  Brunswick,  N.  J. 

VISIT   TO   THE    SOUTH.  69 

enced,  and  yet  already  enjoyed  some  of  the  popularity  which 
attaches  to  the  man  of  eloquence.  Crowds  often  sought  his 
ministry.  The  young  preacher  was  inclined  to  careless 
preparation.  Richly  gifted  with  power  of  language  he  found 
it  easy  to  produce  a  popular  harangue  and  thus  was  preach- 
ing extemporaneously  and  allowing  his  talents  to  run  to 
waste.  Here  the  older  workman  did  good  service,  he  took 
the  beginner  to  his  study,  explained  his  danger  and  urged 
him  to  write  his  sermons  as  the  best  method  of  securing 
proper  forethought,  a  course  Avhich  was  faithfully  pursued  by 
the  scholar  in  the  period  of  his  greatest  success. 

His  labors  here  were  very  arduous,  but  his  success  was 
great  and  popularity  general,  his  reception  by  all  classes  was 
enthusiastic  and  might  have  injured  other  young  ministers. 
He  preached  to  the  negroes  in  the  evening,  and  it  is  deserv- 
ing of  note  that  the  interest  which  his  early  occupation  cre- 
ated in  his  mind  followed  him  through  his  entire  ministry  ; 
those  causes  to  which  he  was  especially  devoted  being  <'  The 
Seamen's  Friend,"  and  "  The  Colonization  Societies." 

70  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 



G.  W.  B.  TO  Mrs.  J.  B.  "  Salem,  June  2o,  1827. 

I  embrace  the  first  mail  since  my  arrival  here  to  inform  you  of  our 
welfare.  Stopped  at  Rhinebeck,  on  my  -way  up,  as  I  proposed,  and 
learned  from  my  kind  friends  that  there  would  be  a  meeting  for  the 
choice  of  pastor  last  Saturday.  What  the  result  of  the  meeting  was  I  do 
not  know.  Some  were  flattering  enough  to  think  they  Avould  pitch  upon 
me,  at  least  by  a  majority.  It  should  be  a  large  one  to  induce  me  to 
accept.  I  have  received,  by  this  day's  mail,  two  very  pleasing  letters 
from  Savannah, — one  from  my  excellent  friend,  Mr.  How,  enclosing  a 
very  pressing  and  affectionate  invitation  from  the  Ladies'  Missionary 
Society,  to  labor  among  them  during  the  next  winter,  with  a  salary  of 
one  hundred  dollars  per  month.  The  prospect  of  usefulness  which  tliis 
presents,  with  the  almost  adequate  support,  makes  an  admirable  corps 
de  reserve.  Mr.  How  accompanies  the  invitation  with  his  warmest  en- 
treaties that  I  should  accept  it ;  the  other  is  from  my  excellent  friend  Airs. 
Mc  Queen,  sending  me  the  thanks  of  my  poor  negroes  for  the  little  ser- 
mon which  I  sent  them,  and  assurances  of  their  kind  regards." 

He  worked  to  great  profit  amongst  the  negroes  of  her 
plantation,  and  was  enabled  to  establish  a  well  ordered 
Church.  Mrs.  McQueen  gratefully  rewarded  his  fidelity  and 
became  his  most  attached  friend. 

G.  "W.  B.  TO  Mrs.  J.  B.  "Saratoga  Springs,  July  30,  1827. 

I  received,  a  day  or  two  since,  a  letter  from  Mr.  Jno.  Eadcliff,  of 
Rhinebeck,  in  which  he  says  that  the  committee  of  the  session  were  then 
engaged  in  taking  up  subscriptions  to  authorize  a  call  for  me.  Thus  far 
they  had  succeeded  beyond  their  most  earnest  expectations.     Many  had 


subscribed  more  than  at  any  previous  period,  and  the  friends  of  Mr. 
Labagh  had  testified  their  acquiescence  in  subscribing  liberally.  Until 
their  subscription  is  completed,  they  will  send  me  no  official  communi- 
cation. As  far  as  we  short-sighted  mortals  can  judge,  there  seems  no 
doubt  of  their  calling  me.  I  look  to  God  for  guidance  and  strength. 
This  is  an  important  crisis  in  my  life.  But  my  faith  is  under  the  direc- 
tion o£  God.     To  him  I  commit  myself." 

With  tliis  call  from  the  Dutch  Church  at  Rhinebeck,  in- 
volving a  change  of  rehgious  denomination,  a  very  serious 
question  was  presented  to  the  young  pastor.  This  step 
could  not  have  been  taken  without  deep  thought  and  anxious 
prayer,  as  it  was  to  define  his  future  position.  Some  years 
later  he  published  a  sermon  entitled  "  Reasons  for  preferring 
a  union  with  the  Reformed  Dutch  Church  of  I^orth  America," 
which  give  us  a  synopsis  of  his  deliberation. 

"Many  who  love  ecclesiastical  order,  pure  truth,  and  above  all,  free- 
dom from  contention,  have  swelled,  her  members,  and  now  the  name 
Eeformed  Dutch  has  ceased  to  be  so  much  a  national  distinction  as  the 
title  of  a  sect  holding  certain  peculiar  features  of  government,  posses- 
sing a  certain  religious  character,  and  subject  to  certain  distinct  ecclesi- 
astical courts."  He  preferred  her  Order;  equally  removed  from  the 
democracy  of  Congregationalism,  the  monarchy  of  Episcopacy,  and  the 
oligarchy  of  Presbyterianism  she  presents  in  her  representative  govern- 
ment united  to  rotation  in  office,  the  purest  republican  constitution. 
He  liked  her  Liturgy,  the  most  important  parts  of  which  are  required 
to  be  used.  In  these,  whatever  may  be  the  unfaithfulness  of  the  minis- 
ter, the  great  doctrines  of  grace  in  their  unadulterated  purity,  are 
brought  before  the  minds,  and  impressed  upon  the  hearts  of  the  people. 
He  delighted  in  her  sound  Doctrine,  yet  with  kind  forbearance  to  those 
who  were  considered  in  error.  He  admired  her  "  Spirit,  1.  Steady, 
slow  to  change ;  2.  Benevolent  to  other  sects  and  in  charities ;  and  3.  one 
of  brotherly  love.  Her  ministers  are  a  band  of  brethren.  When  we 
meet  it  is  as  children  of  tlie  same  beloved  mother.  This  I  am  bold  to  say, 
is  peculiarly  her  character.  It  is  obvious  to  all  that  are  familiar  with  us, 
TLt  same  spirit  pervades  her  laity.     If  we  ditiyr  uj  minor  |K)int6,  we  dif- 

72  MEMOIR    OF    GEO.    W.    DETHUXE,    D.    D. 

fer  in  love.  The  object  of  our  diso.ussion  is  not  the  triumph  of  party, 
but  the  peace  of  the  church,  and  the  discovery  of  truth  by  mutual  coun- 
sels. Those  who  have  seen  us  in  our  assemblies,  must  bear  witness  to 
the  fact.  We  never  meet  but  with  joy,  and  never  part  but  with  tears  and 
mutual  benedictions.  I  am  aware  this  is  a  high  wrought  picture,  but  it 
is  faithful.  My  heart  flows  over  with  thankfulness  to  the  God  of  love, 
while  I  draw  it."  Lastly,  opportunities  of  usefulness  in  the  Reformed 
Dutch  Church  are  great. 

"Our  church  is  at  peace.  We  are  not  called  upon  to  engage  in  tlie 
controversies  of  the  day,  which  so  much  distract  the  minds,  divide  the 
hearts,  and  occupy  the  energies  of  some  sister  churches.  We  may  then 
give  ourselves  wholly  to  the  work  of  saving  souls  for  our  Master.  If  it 
be  necessary  that  other  denominations  should  go  to  the  war,  we,  a  little 
band,  may  stay  at  home  and  cultivate  the  field  of  the  Lord,  and  gather 
the  harvest.  We  are  united,  we  are  respected,  and  hold  a  jyosition  of 
great  influence.  Such,"  he  concludes,  admitting  into  his  serious  discourse 
a  little  drop  of  native  humor,  "  such  are  some  of  the  reasons  why  we 
continue  to  love  our  church ;  why  many  who  have  no  national  claim  to 
her  appellation,  *  seek  her  good ; '  and  why  we  believe  that  *  they  shall 
prosper  that  love  her.'  If  any  deem  these  reasons  insufficient,  we  will 
yet  remain  where  we  are,  until  we  can  find  a  better  spiritual  home." 

Of  these  reasons  doubtless  the  two  most  potent  in  the 
mind  of  the  young  divine  were  the  distracted  state  of  the 
Presbyterian,  church  (then  engaged  in  the  struggles  which 
resulted  in  its  division),  and  the  liturgical  attraction.  He  had 
a  taste  for  forms  and  inclined  to  give  divine  service  a  richer 
dress.  Certain  it  is  that  his  choice  was  the  result  of  earnest 
conviction,  for  he  gave  his  great  heart  with  unflinching  loy- 
alty to  the  church  of  his  adoption. 

G.  W.  B.  TO  Mrs.  J.  B.  "Lebanon  Springs,  Aug.  13,  1827. 

I  am  in  a  little  doubt  upon  a  subject  in  which  I  wish  your  advice.     In 

the  event  of  my  accepting  Rhinebeck,  is  it  better  for  me  to  be  ordained 

in  New  York,  or  R ?    I  had  rather  receive  ordination  from  my  own 


Presbytery,  andMc  Carte e  thinks  it  would  be  pleasanter  for  me  ;  while  on 
the  other  hand  Dr.  Me  Elroy,  whom  I  met  at  Saratoga,  thinks  I  would 
do  better  to  consult  Dutch  feeling,  and  receive   ordination  fi-om  the 

Classis.     Do  send  me  your  advice,  as  it  will  determine  me I 

think  of  you  continually,  and  from  very  many  people  have  the  kindest 

inquiries  addressed  to  me I  preached  tmce  at  Saratoga,  and  I 

received  invitations  from  i)eople  of  all  quarters  to  visit  vacancies  in 
their  neighborhood.  Two  of  the  Consistory  of  the  Dutch  Church  in 
Schenectady  were  sent  to  me  to  request  me  to  preach  for  them,  one,  and, 

if  possible,  a  number  of  Sabbaths Two  persons  whom  I  never 

saw  before,  introduced  themselves  to  me,  to  request  me,  but  not  ofiBcially, 
to  go  to  Portland,  Maine,  as  Dr.  Payson's  health  is  so  bad  as  to  permit 
him  to  preach  but  seldom.  I  have  of  course  given  the  negative  to  every- 
thing until  this  aifair  with  Rhinebeck  is  settled." 

Mrs.  J.  B.  to  her  Son.  "  New  York,  Aug.  15,  1827. 

Mt  dear  George  :  At  last  I  can  acknowledge  a  letter  from  you.  If 
you  think  of  me  continually,  you  might  find  a  few  minutes  to  put  your 
thoughts  on  paper.  Had  I  not  heard  from  others,  I  should  not  have 
known  of  your  getting  the  call  to  Rhinebeck.  Choules  gave  the  first  in- 
formation of  it,  and  last  Sabbath  evening  Mr.  Camp,  of  Rhinebeck,  called 
to  inquire  for  you,  and  spent  an  hour  with  me  ;  he  seems  a  good,  pious 

I  agree  with  Mr.  Mc  Elroy  as  to  your  ordination.  It  would  have  been, 
perhaps,  more  pleasant  for  you  to  have  been  ordained  by  your  own  pres- 
bytery, but  as  it  has  not  been  done  previous  to  your  accepting  the  call,  I 
think  it  would  please  your  people  better  to  have  all  done  by  the  Ciassis. 
Tliey  would  then  acknowledge  you  more  a  Dutchman,  as  I  presume  you 
would  need  no  dismission  from  any  other  body.  But  I  speak  without 
knowing  much  of  forms.  I  trust  the  Lord  himself  wUl  be  your  counsel- 
lor in  that,  and  everytliing  else.  I  should  like  to  be  present  at  your 
ordination  and  installation ;  both,  I  presume,  at  the  same  time,  which  is 
another  reason  for  being  ordained  by  the  Classis." 

He  was  ordained  by  the  Second  Presbytery  of  New  York 
in  view  of  his  call  to  the  Rhinebeck  Church,  and  when  he  as- 
sumed the  solemn  vows,  he  stood  upon  the  spot  where  his 

74  MEMOIR    OF    GEO.    AV.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

parents  had  offered  him  to  the  Lord  in  baptism,  and  i\'here 
reposed  the  sacred  remains  of  his  father  and  grandmother. 
Directly  after,  he  was  installed  at  Rhinebeck  and  had 
a  most  cordial  reception.  The  original  correspondence 
speaks  for  itself. 

G.  W.  B.  TO  Mrs.  J.  B.  "Rhinebeck,  Dec.  10,  1827. 

We  arrived  here  ia  safety,  and  are  now  enjoying  as  much  comfort  as 
our  anxiety  with  regard  to  you  will  permit 

It  is  a  delightful  reflection,  the  omnipresence  and  universal  providence 
of  Grod,  that  in  all  places,  and  under  all  circumstances,  he  is  ever  at  hand 
to  bless,  to  uphold,  and  to  comfort  his  people,  that  the  prayer  for  his 
mercy,  though  ascending  for  a  distant  mother,  is  as  effectual  as  if  offered 
hj  her  bedside.  You  are  with  him  my  beloved  mother,  with  him  in  whom 
you  have  believed,  upon  whom  you  have  trusted,  to  whom  you  have  com- 
mitted every  temporal  and  eternal  interest.  He  has  promised  and  he  is 
faithful ;  he  will  comfort  you  and  stay  you  by  the  right  arm  of  his  right- 
eousness, and  this  is  my  only  comfort  in  being  absent  from  you." 

"Ehinebeck,  Jan.  2,  1828. 

Things  go  on  here  tolerably  well,  and  I  have  my  hands  as  full  of  bus- 
iness as  they  can  well  be,  but  I  have  reason  ta  be  thankful.  I  am  suc- 
ceeding better  than  I  had  any  reason  to  anticipate.  My  operations  in 
the  quarter  where  the  Methodists  had  broken  in  upon  me,  have  been  at- 
tended with  signal  success,  my  Bible  class  there  already  consisting  of 
five  and  twenty. 

I  have  also  strong  reasons  for  believing  ray  project  of  a  Classical 
School,  Avill  be  successful.  I  have  made  Mr.  Van  Horn  an  offer  of 
about  seventy-four  dollars  per  quarter,  to  begin  with,  with  every  pros- 
pect of  rapid  increase.  Should  he  come,  I  shall  enjoy  some  assistance  of 
my  Sunday  schools. 

Few  changes  take  place  in  our  little  village  of  interest  to  you.  The 
whole  routine  of  my  duties  to  a  superficial  eye,  is  very  monotonous,  but 
to  my  anxious  mind  full  of  interest.  Preaching  here,  preaching  there ; 
catechising  in  tliis  quarter  or  that ;  visiting  this  sick  or  that  afflicted 
famOy,  but  it  is  my  work,  assigned  me  by  the  Master.  May  I  fulfil  the 
end  for  wliich  he  has  called  me." 


"Rhinebeck,  Jan.  3,  1828. 
Every  thing  about  us  progresses  (to  use  a  Yankee  phrase)  very  well. 
We  live  very  retired  and  very  happily.  We  have  great  reason  to  be 
thankful.  My  official  labours  are  so  numerous  as  to  prevent  my  taking 
much  enjoyment  in  my  greatest  pleasure,  reading,  and  my  separation 
from  my  bclov<2d  and  affectionate  mother  hangs  like  a  cloud  over  me. 
If  I  had  time  to  relieve  myself  by  frequent  writing,  it  would  be  different, 
but  my  moments  allotted  to  general  writing  must  be  had,  when  others 
would  be  asleep,  and  the  duties  which  more  than  filled  up  the  day  are 
closed.  But  if  all  were  sunshine  and  happiness  here,  we  would  not  seek 
for  heaven ;  if  we  had  all  the  comforts  of  home  in  this  poor  world,  we 
would  not  care  for  our  Father's  house.  But  I  trust  I  am  not  entirely 
ungrateful  for  the  mercies  I  receive.  I  feel  a  happiness  and  enjoyment 
of  my  labour,  which  I  never  knew  in  my  leisure  hours,  and  I  know  by 
experience,  that  the  sleep  and  the  food  of  the  labouring  man  is  sweet. 

"Ehinebeck,  January  10,  1828. 

Mt  Beloved  Mother  ;  Your  kind  letter  I  received  and  read  with  that 
attention  which  every  suggestion  from  one  so  affectionate  and  tender 
towards  me  deserves.  I  thank  you,  my  dear  mother,  for  the  gentleness 
and  forbearance  with  which  you  warn  me  of  my  follies  and  my  sins. 
Dear  mother,  I  thought  all  the  while  with  David,  '  let  the  righteous 
smite  thee,  it  shall  be  a  kindness  and  let  him  reprove  me,  it  shall  be  an 
excellent  oil,  which  shall  not  break  thy  head.'  I  dare  hardly  make  prom- 
ises, I  have  so  often  promised  yet  failed ;  but  my  dear  mother,  your 
letter  has  reached  my  heart.  I. do  feel  and  deeply  too,  that  I  have  been 
foolish,  sinfully,  ungratefully  foolish,  and  I  pray  God  I  may  never  give 
you  cause  to  repeat  the  gentle  reproofs  conveyed  in  your  last.  It  is 
not  with  any  intention  to  extravagance  but  through  carelessness  —  sin- 
ful, blameable  carelessness  —  I  acknowledge.  Not  to  excuse,  but  per- 
haps to  palliate,  my  folly,  I  may  say,  that,  we  are  young  housekeepers 
and  may,  perhaps,  and  I  hope  we  will,  improve." 

'•I  have  been  lately  thinking  more  and  more  about  the  instruction  of 
the  lambs  of  the  flock,  and  it  appears  to  me  that  the  church  as  such  by 
its  government  should  take  a  more  decided  part  in  the  instruction  of  the 
young.  The  old  churches  (spite  of  our  boasted  novelties)  managed 
these  things  better,  especially  our  church  (Hollanidsche),  —  she  had  all 
the  schools  under  her  care.     Their  masters  were  her  choice,  subject  to 

76  MEMOIR   OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

her  government.  Now,  suppose  an  infant  school  attached  to  each 
church.  Then  the  Sabbath  schools  for  more  decidedly  religious  and 
doctrinal  instruction.  Then  schools  for  higher  branches  until  the  clas- 
sical branches  should  finish  all.  How  perfectly  could  the  church  control 
the  growing  years  and  expanding  afiections  of  her  young.  Immoral 
teachers,  dangerous  books,  all  would  be  banished  from  the  schools, 

"I  begin  to  be  more  and  more  of  Dr.  Green's  sentiments,  viz :  That 
hoAvever  beneficial  Bible  and  Sabbath  Societies  may  be,  the  church  in 
her  corporate  capacity  should  be  up  and  doing.  The  command  is  to  the 
church,  Go  ye  and  preach.  I  wish  we  had  your  book,  I  feel  quite  im- 
patient to  see  it.  I  have  half  a  notion  to  turn  autlior  myself.  I  find 
that  there  is  nothing  more  difficult  in  the  country,  than  to  find  good 
well-informed  teachers  or  even  those  who  have  an  opportunity  of  inform- 
ing themselves.  Judson's  Questions,  or  anybody's  questions,  will  be  of 
little  service  Avhere  there  is  no  commentary  to  assist  the  teacher  to  ex- 
plain. Bible  classes  and  lectures  do  something  towards  this,  but  not 
enough  —  neither  does  the  instruction  of  a  bible  class  keep  pace  with 
the  Sabbath  school. 

"  My  plan  is  this  —  to  begin  with  the  creation  —  thence  the  fall  —  the 
promise  of  Messiah  —  the  call  of  Abraham — Israel  —  the  Passover  &c., 
to  Christ's  birth  —  thence  through  the  gospel  —  to  write  a  short  running 
commentary  adapted  to  the  higher  classes  of  Sabbath  schools  —  divided 
into  proper  lessons  with  short  practical  remarks  and  place  at  the  end 
the  questions  which  show  the  attention  of  the  scholar  to  the  comment- 
ary. This  commentary  to  embrace  geographical,  archseological,  doc- 
trinal, explanatory  and  practical  remarks,  suited  especially  to  children. 
The  only  thing  which  I  fear  is,  the  expense." 

"  Rhinebeck,  February  18,  1828. 
You  have  probably  seen  the  result  of  our  Bible  meeting.  It  was 
very  clieering.  The  resolution  was  entered  upon  our  minutes,  that 
within  six  months  every  family  in  the  county  of  Dutchess  should  have  a 
bible.  The  motion  was  made  by  a  Methodist,  seconded  by  a  Baptist,  and 
enforced  by  a  Lutheran.  When  I  saw  they  were  about  to  disperse  I 
rose  and  moved,  with  a  few  remarks,  that  a  subscription  be  opened  imme- 
diately ;  it  was  carried  almost  by  acclamation  and  my  mother  will  excuse 


my  putting  down  $  10,  when  it  was  followed  immediately  by  .$  250 
—  and  since,  I  learn,  by  more  than  $  100  more  — our  county  funds  ex- 
clusive of  the  auxiliary  societies,  must  now  amount  to  nearly  400  dol- 
lars. I  think  that  the  Bible  Funds  throughout  the  county  of  Dutchess 
within  the  present  year  must  amount  to  $  1,200. 
So  much  for  prompt  exertion." 

The  young  pastor  was  made  Honorary  Member  of  the 
Delphian  Society  of  Union  College  on  the  1st  of  April  of  this 
year,  and  the  diploma,  being  the  first  of  many  the  like  which 
he  received,  is  carefully  preserved  in  the  family  archives. 
On  the  18th  of  September  comes  the  first  letter  to  beg  for 
patronage  and  recommendation.  Some  years  later  such 
letters  came  by  dozens  and  twenties.  The  last  we  see  of 
him  in  1828  is  his  leaving  a  letter  to  his  mother  to  "  do  the 
courteous  to  his  congregation,  which  has  turned  Qiit  almost 
en  masse  to  build  his  fence  for  him." 

His  labors  and  meditations  at  this  time  are  continually 
turned  towards  the  schools  of  his  charge,  and  he  constantly 
has  to  thank  his  mother  for  aiding  him  with  advice  and 
money  to  keep  them  up. 

In  September  1829,  his  congregation  made  what  he  calls 
a  "  straggling  attempt"  to  raise  his  salary.  «  The  utmost  point 
they  try  to  reach  is  eight  hundred  dollars,  and  I  doubt  whether 
they  will  make  that  out.  It  is  to  be  sure  a  rather  unfivor- 
able  time."     But  better  days  were  coming. 

G.  W.  B.  TO  Mrs.  J.  B.  "Rhinebeck,  October  26,  1829. 

The  Rev.  Mr.  Schemerhorn  of  Utica,  came  to  make  a  proposal  of 
very  grave  interest.  You  know,  perhaps,  that  for  a  year  or  two  back, 
they  have  been  endeavoring  to  raise  a  Dutch  Church  in  Utica,  to  recall 
the  descendants  of  our  church  to  the  institutions  of  their  forefothers  and 
specially  to  stem  the  tide  of  error  and  disorder  which  is  flowing  at  the 
West.    The  Church  is  now  completed  or  nearly  so,  and  Mr.  S.  has 

78  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

come  to  ask  me  to  become  the  pastor,  and  says  that  he  does  so  because 
I  have  been  mentioned  by  a  number  of  persons  high  in  the  Dutch 
Church,  as  the  person  adapted  for  the  enterprise,  and  that  he  can  find  no 
other.  Mr.  Varick  of  Utica,  who  is  one  of  the  main  pillars  in  the 
Church,  having  heard  me  at  Oswego,  and  Mr.  Broadhead  also  wish  me. 
They  secure  to  me  a  salary  of  one  thousand  dollars  increasing  with  the 
income  of  the  church,  to  fifteen  hundred  dollars.  The  price  of  living 
is  far  lower  in  Utica  than  here,  and  the  station,  one  of  the  most  promi- 
nent in  the  Dutch  Church. 

The  prospect  of  raising  a  good  church  speedily,  is  great.  They 
wish  to  have  a  minister  the  latter  part  of  December,  at  least.  Now, 
what  shall  I  do  ?  They  press  me  for  a  speedy  answer,  but  how  can  I 
give  one.  It  does  appear  as  if  the  Lord  were  calling  me  to  another 
sphere  of  usefulness  in  some  things,  and  others  appear  to  bid  me  stay 
here.  I  write  to  you  for  your  advice,  I  refer  it  to  God  by  prayer  and 
desire  to  be  in  his  hands  to  do  with  me  as  he  will,  I  feel  my  inability 
to  discharge  the  duties  of  so  important  a  station  and  think  I  am  better 
here.     But,  if  the  Lord  call  me,  then  he  will  give  me  strength." 

The  answer  comes,  — promptly,  and  to  the  point: 

"  October  29. 

You,  and  I  with  you,  undertook  your  present  situation  fully  con- 
vinced that  the  salary  of  six  hundred  dollars  would  not  support  you, 
but  hoping  that  the  Lord  Avould  honor  you  as  his  instrument  in  reviv- 
ing an  apparently  neither  cold  nor  hot  congregation,  that  it  would  be  a 
good  place  for  study,  and  to  form  a  character,  and  experience  for  future 
usefulness  when  the  Lord  should  call  you  to  a  more  enlarged  sphere  and 
you  should  see  your  Avay  clear  to  accept  such  a  call. 

How  have  these  expectations  been  realized?  Of  the  first  we  need 
say  nothing,  but  surely  the  second  has  been  more  than  realized.  The 
pleasure  of  the  Lord  has  indeed  prospered  in  your  hand,  the  dry  bones 
have  been  clothed  with  sinews  and  flesh.  The  word  of  the  Lord  has 
not  returned  to  him  void;  but  as  the  snow  and  the  rain  has  watered  the 
earth  and  resulted  in  seed  to  the  sower.  The  blessed  purpose  of  the 
Lord  has  been  fulfilled  in  the  salvation  of  many  souls,  and  you,  ray  be- 
loved son,  the  lionored  instrument  in  His  hand.    You  have  also  been 


instnimental  in  rousing  the  people  to  active  exertion  in  the  Lord's  cause 
and  to  honor  him  with  their  substance,  and  through  you  much  treasure 
has  been  cast  into  the  Lord's  treasury.  You  have  seen  an  apparently 
careless  people  become  a  praying  people,  an  apparently  stingy  people 
became  a  liberal  people,  and  you  have  all  along  been  treated  with  much 
affection  and  much  greater  respect  than  usually  falls  to  the  lot  of  young 
men.  To  balance  this,  you  have  not  been  supported,  and  your  salary  has 
not  gone  as  far  even  as  you  expected,  neither  have  the  people  done  as 
much  for  you,  in  a  pecuniary  way,  as  they  have  done  for  others,  but  the 
worst  part  of  your  settlement  is  over,  many  expenses  you  have  been 
exposed  to,  you  will  not  have  again.  You  will  gradually  learn  experi- 
ence and  economy,  and,  even  at  Mary's  calculation,  you  may  live. 

Taking  the  call  into  view  I  see  nothing  to  tempt  you  to  change,  and 
much  to  frighten  you.  You  would  be  in  the  very  hot-bed  of  Hopkins- 
ianism,  you  would  be  looked  at  with  a  jealous  eye  by  all  settled  minis- 
ters, and  you  would  have  to  labor  in  season  and  out  of  season,  not  ex- 
clusively with  the  sweet  feeling  of  bringing  souls  to  Christ  and  honor 
to  your  Master,  but  to  build  up  a  Dutch  Church ;  both  may  be  proper, 
but  I  must  say,  my  heart  shrinks  from  your  engaging  in  any  party  work 
and  of  course  being  exposed  to  party  feeling.  A  change  may  be  neces- 
sary, but  I  do  not  advise  it  so  soon.  Your  character  is  scarcely  estab- 
lished, and  were  you  to  change  for  Utica,  and  probably  from  that  to  some 
other  place,  it  might  give  an  unfavourable  impression  of  your  stability. 
Besides,  I  see  nothing  to  tempt  you,  even  in  a  pecuniary  way;  one 
thousand  dollars,  without  parsonage  or  wood,  would  be  little  better  than 
what  you  have;  your  house-rent  would  be  two  hundred  dollars  at  least, 
and  you  have  loaded  yourselves  with  so  much  "  thick  day  "  that  the 
expense  of  moving  would  swallow  up  any  overplus,  and,  though  men- 
^tioned  last,  you  will  consider  with  me,  the  exposure  of  your  dear  Mary, 
at  so  inclement  a  season,  as  almost  a  sufficient  reason  itself  for  not 
attempting  to  move  this  season." 

Meanwhile,  however,  there  were  other  causes  at  work  and 
while  the  zealous  young  minister  was  "  proposing,"  the  ill 
health  of  his  wil'e  forced  him  to  leave  Rhinebeck  for  the 
South.  He  went  away  on  leave  of  absence,  but  never  came 
back  again. 

80  BIEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

His  laljors  had  been  abundant.  The  congregation  was 
spread  over  fifteen  miles  of  country,  and  he  was  obliged  to 
conduct  four  Bible  classes.  His  audience  was  not  composed 
entirely  of  plain  country  people,  but  embraced  some  who 
were  distinguished  in  the  land,  such  as  Hon.  Peter  R.  Liv- 
ingston, and  the  widow  of  General  Montgomery.  Mrs.  L.  he 
loved  '^o  call  his  "  Rhinebeck  mother,"  and  when  she  was  dy- 
ing he  sang  over  her  couch,  "  Angels  are  hovering  round  thy 
bed,  to  waft  thy  spirit  home."  He  was  most  conscientious 
in  work,  never  saving  himself  when  the  sick  or  sorrowful 
called.  One  evening  he  said  to  Mrs.  B.  we  are  both  so  fond 
of  music,  I  am  enticed  to  play  the  flute  when  I  ought  to  be 
writing  sermons.  My  flute  is  a  temptation  from  duty.  I  will 
give  it  up.  It  was  dispatched  to  a  nephew  with  tears,  and  ac- 
companied by  a  note,  "  I  send  j^ou  my  flute,  it  tempts  me 
from  my  studies.  I  love  it,  for  it  was  the  gift  of  your  grand- 
father, use  it  tenderly  for  his  sake."  Frequently  he  was  in 
his  study  till  two  or  three  o'clock  in  the  morning,  and  when 
asked  at  a  late  hour,  "  Are  you  not  weary  ?"  replied  "  Yes, 
but  I  cannot  sleep  till  I  have  made  each  individual  visited 
a  subject  of  special  prayer." 

Rev.  Mr.  Drury  has  supplied  interesting  particulars  re- 
garding this  ministry. 

**When  Dr.  Bethune  came  to  Rhinebeck,  tte  church,  like  many  of 
its  sisters  in  the  country,  was  in  a  cold  and  lifeless  state ;  though 
there  was  doubtless  in  it  a  little  leaven  of  piety  it  was  almost  hidden 
in  the  great  mass  of  dead  orthodoxy  and  indifference  by  which  it 
was  surrounded.  There  was  not  a  single  unman-ied  person  in  the 
communion  under  the  age  of  fifty,  and  of  the  members  there  were  none 
who  could  lead  in  public  prayer.  Of  course  such  a  thing  as  a  social 
prayer-meeting  was  unknown,  and  under  existing  circumstances,  seemed 
well-nigh  Impossible.     When  after  Dr.  B.  came  he  spoke  of  starting 


one,  a  young  man,  now  a  leading  member  of  tlie  Poughkeepsie  bar, 
doubtingly  asked,  "But  Dominie,  who  will  make  the  prayers?"  to 
which  the  Dr.  had  to  answer,  "  If  no  one  else,  I." 

He  very  soon  filled  the  church  with  interested  listeners  to  his 
preaching.  With  his  natural  gifts  and  abilities,  he  could  not  but  be 
an  attractive  and  eloquent  speaker.  His  sermons  while  at  Rhinebeck 
were  characterized  by  the  same  practical  and  fervent  spirit  that  is  ob- 
served in  his  published  discourses.  At  this  period  his  pulpit  prepara- 
tions were  less  studied  than  they  afterwards  became,  and  many  of  his 
former  people,  on  hearing  him  in  after  years  would  remark  the  differ- 
ence, but  yet  insist,  that  although  the  Dominie  had  gained  perhaps  in 
grace  and  polish,  he  was  more  eloquent  and  effective  to  their  minds, 
when  his  inspiration  was  gained  more  from  daily  intercourse  with  his 
people,  than  from  the  retirement  of  his  study.  At  the  second  service 
he  always  extemporized,  and  these  sermons  are,  I  find,  best,  and  most 
favorably  remembered.  But  while  the  Dr.  was  effective  in  the  pulpit, 
and  by  his  preaching  wrought  a  great  work,  his  distinguished  useful- 
ness was  due,  in  almost  as  great  measure,  to  his  diligent  use  of  the 
accessaries  of  preaching. 

As  a  pasto?'  the  Doctor  was  especially  active.  He  seems  to  have 
recognized  that  in  order  to  benefit  his  people  he  must  get  them  ac- 
quainted with,  and  interested  in,  him,  and  to  this  end  he  spent  much  of 
his  time  with  them  at  t)]eir  homes.  He  took  especial  pains  to  interest 
the  young,  whom  he  regarded  as  the  hope  of  the  church.  He  was  in  the 
habit  of  remarking  that  the  old  people  had  become  too  set  in  their  ways 
for  him  to  do  much  with  them,  so  he  must,  if  he  was  going  to  do  any- 
thing, attend  to  the  young,  as  only  in  that  way  could  he  get  such 
Christians  as  he  wanted.  He  neglected  no  means  by  which  he  might 
hope  to  win  any.  If  his  horses  needed  shoeing,  or  he  required  in  any 
way  the  services  of  a  mechanic,  he  went  himself  to  see  to  it,  and  in 
this  apparently  chance  encounter  was  not  unmindful  of  his  higher 
work,  and  by  his  ready  wit  and  conversational  powers  wiled  many  to 
hear  him  preach  who  were  never  before  in  the  habit  of  attending 

Much  that  he  did  as  a  pastor  was  not  discovered  until  after  he  had 
left.     About  eight  miles  from  the  village  is  a  slate  quarry,  at  that 

S2  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

time  extensively  -worked,  affording  employment  to  quite  a  number  of 
workmen.  They  and  their  families  were  in  a  great  degree  destitute 
of  the  preaching  of  the  gospel  and  the  means  of  grace.  After  he  had 
left,  for  many  years  the  Doctor^s  name  was  spoken  of  in  these  humble 
families  with  affection  and  respect.  In  each  of  them  he  had  been  a 
visitor,  and  quietly,  and  as  it  were,  unknown,  sowed  the  seeds  of  the 
word.  He  was  famous  for  the  speed  of  his  driving.  Such  facts  as 
these  show  in  what  service  it  was  done. 

Dr.  B.  was,  moreover,  the  inaugurator  of  the  Temperance  move- 
ment in  Rhinebeck,  and  accomplished  in  this  direction  a  much  needed 
reform.  His  sermon  on  the  subject  is  remembered  by  those  who  heard 
it  as  an  eloquent  and  stirring  effort.  It  was  published.  This  is  the 
first  record  of  his  appearance  in  print  although  he  had  contributed  to 
magazines  under  assumed  names.  The  Doctor  not  only  preached  but 
practiced  the  new  doctrine.  In  the  early  spring,  soon  after  preaching 
the  sermon,  he  attempted  to  drive  to  Poughkeepsie  on  the  ice,  and 
just  before  reaching  Hyde  Park  he  broke  in  and  with  his  companion, 
got  a  decided  wetting.  Yv^hen  they  reached  Hyde  Park  his  compan- 
ion suggested  "  taking  a  little  something  to  keep  the  cold  out,"  but 
the  Doctor  refused,  saying  he  had  lately  ridiculed  the  idea  of  taking 
liquor  in  winter  to  keep  out  the  cold  and  in  summer  to  keep  out  the 
heat,  and  he  was  going  to  try  the  virtue  of  doing  without  it,  and  af- 
terwards testified  that  he  was  none  the  worse  for  his  abstinence. 

Bethune  was  fond  of  horses  and  was  accomplished  in  their  manage- 
ment. He  owned  one  or  two  during  his  stay  which  he  alone  was  able 
to  manage.  So  noted  was  his  horsemanship  that  some  were  even 
brought  to  hear  him  preach  to  ascertain  if  he  could  preach  as  well  as 
he  could  drive.  He  had  as  a  near  neighbor,  an  old  gentleman,  who 
spent  a  great  deal  of  his  time  in  his  garden.  As  he  was  something  ol 
a  character  in  his  way,  the  Doctor  would  frequently  stop  and  converse 

with  him  over  the  fence.   One  day  he  said  to  him,   "  Well  Mr.  L , 

now  you  are  suited  to  a  great  many  employments,  if  you  fail  at  one 
you  can  take  to  another ;  but  if  I  were  prevented  from  preaching  what 
do  you  think  I  would  be  good  for?"  The  old  gentleman  stopped 
digging,  and  then  with  a  twinkle  in  his  eye,  answered,  "  Vf  ell,  Domi- 
nie, if  you  have  to  stop  preaching  you  would  make  a  first  rate  stage- 


driver."    The  Doctor  accepted  the  compliment  on  his  horsemanship 

and  failed  not  to  repeat  the  joke  to  his  friends.     Mr.  L did  not 

tell  his  Dominie,  as  ho  might  have  done,  that  other  trades  failing  he 
could  take  to  gardening.  Helping  hands  were  never  wanting.  A  fine 
taste  directed  and  a  living  energy  urged  on  the  work.  A  little  gem  of 
horticulture  was  the  result.  The  tired  eyes  of  the  hard- writing  pastor 
had  a  sweet  object  to  dwell  upon,  flowers  adorned  the  vases  on  the 
tables;  and  the  great,  much  neglected  truth  that  "beauty  is  cheap" 
received  its  fullest  illustration.  The  parsonage  was  surrounded  with 
beautiful  scenery.  A  silver  brook  made  sweet  music  at  the  bottom  of 
the  sloping  ground  on  which  the  house  stood,  and  the  ruins  of  the  old 
parsonage  peeping  through  the  trees  reminded  of  good  Dr.  E-omeyn, 
who  was  its  first  occupant.  The  first  winter  was  employed  in  bring- 
ing forest  trees  on  sledges  and  placing  them  in  trenches  prepared,  and 
in  the  spring  the  grounds  were  laid  out  and  planted  with  the  choicest 
fruits  and  flowers.  The  neighbors  gladly  aided  in  the  work.  One 
day  they  were  in  despair  at  fruitless  eflforts  lo  mark  a  circle  for  the 
flower  bed.  The  Dominie  came  up  in  his  light  wagon  and  perceiving 
at  a  glance  their  difficulty,  desired  them  to  stand  back,  drove  in,  and, 
with  a  sweep  of  his  wheels,  marked  the  true  curve  amid  the  uplifted 
hands  and  loudly  expressed  admiration  of  the  bystanders. 

Rev.  Mr.  Hendricks  relates  that  at  a  general  training  Mr.  Bethune 
was  chaplain  of  the  day.  Some  of  the  people  having  fallen  into  intox- 
ication, the  minister  reproved  the  fault  severely,  asserting  that  it  was 
beastly,  but  soon  corrected  himself,  saying  no,  that  was  a  satire  on  the 
beasts,  for  they  never  debased  themselves  in  such  wise. 

84  MEMOIR   OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUXE,    D.  D. 



On  his  arrival  in  Savannah,  whites  and  blacks,  sailors  and 
civilians  received  their  favorite  Pastor  with  acclamation. 
He  found  a  sphere  of  usefulness  at  once,  by  taking  the  place 
of  Mr.  Baker  who  was  travelling  for  the  Savannah  Bible 
Society:  ''so  that  the  Lord  can  find  a  place  for  me,'^  he 
says,  "  and  one  too,  in  which  I  am,  perhaps,  aiding  my  favor- 
ite cause  more  than  if  I  were  personally  and  immediately 

His  somewhat  exulting  accounts  to  his  mother  did  not 
elicit  precisely  the  response  that  he  may  have  expected. 
''What  I  most  dread  in  your  remaining  at  Savannah,'^  she 
says,  "  is  your  popularity  there  ;  remember  Bacon's  prayer  : 
'  When  I  ascend  before  men,  0  Lord,  may  I  descend  in  deep 
humility  before  thee/  '' 

His  satisfaction  in  his  Savannah  work  too,  was  seriously 
lessened  by  the  affairs  of  the  Hhinebeck  parish  which 
weighed  upon  his  mind,  and  of  which  he  received  no  cheer- 
ing accounts.  The  eye  of  the  Master  was  wanting  and  it 
is  evident  that  in  spiritual  matters  his  church  was  retro- 
grading, in  money  matters  not  getting  on.  The  call  to  Utica, 
though  declined  in  theory,  was  yet  an  open  question  and  the 
failure  of  the  Khinebeck  Consistory  to  reduce  the  debt  of 
the  church  and  raise  their  minister's  stipend,  left  him  free  to 
stand  by  them  or  go  elsewhere  as  should  seem  best.  Mean- 
while, calls  to  other  churches  were  not  wanting.     In  the 

31IAISTKY    IN   UTICA.  85 

latter  part  of  March  a  very  complimentary  letter  from 
Charleston,  invited  him  to  fill  the  pulpit  in  the  Second 
Presbyterian  Church  of  that  city.  The  wish  of  the  con- 
gregation was  unanimous,  with  the  exception  of  a  single 
individual,  who  desired  it  placed  upon  the  minutes,  that  "  he 
could  vote  for  no  one  who  had  charge  of  another  congrega- 
tion without  first  consulting  that  congregation  to  know  if 
they  were  willing  to  dissolve  the  connection.'' 
He  thus  wrote  : 

"I  preached  three  times  yesterday  to  very  full  congregations  and  at 
night  to  an  enormous  audience.  My  charity  sermon  brought  a  very 
large  collection.  It  may  please  you  to  know  I  have  met  with  great  ap- 
plause, I  pray  God,  with  spiritual  success.  I  have  soothed  my  lonely 
feelings  by  writing  the  following  lines  : 

Afar  from  thee,  the  morning  breaks, 

But  morning  brings  no  joy  to  me ; 
Alas !  ray  spirit  only  wakes 

To  know  I  am  afar  from  thee  — 
In  dreams  I  sa,w  thy  blessed  face. 

And  thou  wast  nestled  on  my  breast ; 
In  dreams  I  felt  thy  loved  embrace, 

And  to  mine  own  thy  heart  was  pressed. 

Afar  from  thee !  'tis  solitude, 

Though  smiling  crowds  around  me  be, 

The  kind,  the  beautiful,  the  good. 
But  I  can  only  think  of  thee ; 

Of  thee,  the  kindest,  loveliest,  best, 
My  earliest  and  my  only  one ; 

Without  thee,  I  am  all  unblest. 
And  Avholly  blest  with  thee  alone. 

Afar  from  thee !     The  words  of  praise 

My  listless  ears  unheeded  greet; 
What  sweetest  seemed  in  better  days. 

SQ  MEMOIR    OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUXE,    D.  D. 

Without  thee  seems  no  longer  sweet; 
The  dearest  joy  fame  can  bestow, 

Is  in  thy  moistened  eye  to  see, 
And  in  thy  cheeks'  unusual  glow, 

Thou  deemest  me  not  unworthy  thee. 

Afar  from  thee !     The  night  is  come, 

But  slumbers  from  my  pillows  flee; 
I  cannot  rest  so  far  from  home, 

And  my  heart's  home  is,  love,  with  thee. 
I  kneel  before  the  throne  of  prayer, 

And  then  I  know  that  tliou  art  nigh, 
For  God,  who  seeth  everywhere. 

Bends  on  us  both  his  watchful  eye. 

Together  in  his  loved  embrace, 

No  distance  can  our  hearts  divide ; 
Forgotten  quite  the  mediate  space, 

I  kneel  thy  kneeling  form  beside ; 
My  tranquil  frame  then  sinks  to  sleep, 

But  soars  the  spirit  far  and  free; 
Oh  welcome  be  night's  slumbers  deep, 

For  then,  dear  love,  I  am  with  thee." 

During  this  winter  Mr.  B.  stood  as  godfather  for  the  son  of 
Mrs.  McCullister.  He  made  him  a  special  subject  of  prayer 
on  Sabbath  evenings,  asking  that  he  might  become  a  Minister 
of  the  Gospel.  The  prayer  is  answered  and  he  is  the  be- 
loved pastor  of  a  large  congregation  in  San  Francisco. 

The  Charleston  congregation  was  treated  with  great  cour- 
tesy and  candor.  Their  offer  was  taken  into  respectful  con- 
sideration ;  the  facts  not  concealed,  which  rendered  a  decis- 
ion difiScult.  When  the  call  to  Utica  was  renewed  soon 
after,  and  the  northern  clergyman  thought  it  a  more  advan- 
tageous oiSfer  for  him,  his  southern  friends  had  nothing  to 
complain  of  in  his  course. 

THE   CHURCH   AT    UTICA.  87 

A  clergyman's  profession  makes  him  fit  to  stand  before 
kings  and  mean  men  alike,  and  in  this  fact,  and  in  the  fulfil- 
ment of  his  duty,  he  finds  his  reward  for  toil  and  exposure. 
But  this  world's  goods  are  none  the  less  acceptable  for  that. 
A  present  of  three  hundred  dollars  was  made  to  the  young 
pastor  by  his  Savannah  congregation,  as  a  token  of  their  re- 
gard for  his  person,  and  their  estimation  of  his  talents,  and 
probably  imparted  equal  pleasure  to  the  giver  and  the  re- 
ceiver. Indeed  a  firm  attachment  appears  to  have  subsisted 
between  the  minister  and  his  people,  and  so  much  kindness 
was  shewn  to  Mr.  Betlmne  by  the  men  of  the  south  gener- 
ally, as  fully  to  account  for  a  certain  tenderness  of  feeling 
which  he  entertained  for  them  when  the  war  first  broke  out. 

The  Utica  congregation  have  made  up  their  minds  finally 
as  to  the  man  they  desire  for  pastor,  and  from  that  man 
the}'  will  not  take  no  for  an  answer.  Their  church  is  not 
yet  formed,  and  they  will  have  but  one  man  to  form  it. 
Their  church  is  not  yet  dedicated,  and  Vaej  will  have  the 
same  man  to  dedicate  it.  "We  have  appointed  the  third 
Thursday  of  this  month  (June,  1830),  for  the  dedication 
of  the  church  of  Utica,^'  writes  John  F.  Schermerhorn, 
"and  we  expect  you  there  on  the  occasion,  and  wish  that 
you  supply  the  pulpit  on  the  Sabbath  following.''  The 
church  is  duly  dedicated  on  the  day  fixed.  The  "  edifice  is 
the  neatest  and  most  tasty  building  of  its  kind  that  can  be 
seen,  the  congregation  quadruple  what  our  most  sanguine 
friends  could  have  anticipated,  and  we  have  succeeded  in 
procuring  a  chorister  of  the  best  abilities  for  his  ofBce,  so 
that  everj^thing  looks  fair." 

G.  W.  B.  TO  Mrs.  J.  B.  "Utica,  July  8,  1830. 

My  Dear  Mother  :   I  should  have  vrritten  before  this,  but  time  after 

time  have  been  prevented  by  my  multitudinous  concerns.     Not  that  my 

88  MEMOIR   OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

parish  is  so  large  as  to  occupy  much  of  my  time  in  visiting,  as  I  can  see 
my  -whole  flock  in  one  day.  But  the  commencement  of  my  Sabbath 
School  Bible  Class  etc.,  has  swallowed  me  up.  By  the  way,  my  school 
does  well.  Seven  of  my  men  gave  me  ten  dollars  each  to  establish  it. 
I  have  now  sixty  scholars,  and  we  have  only  met  once. 

My  church  promises  fairly  as  yet ;  although,  of  course,  the  experiment 
is  only  begun,  but  my  congregation  increases  every  day  very  evidently. 
We  have  no  quarrel  with  any  one,  and  will  try  to  permit  no  one  to  have 
any  quarrel  with  us. 

Honesty  is  our  policy — plain,  open-handed  honesty ;  a  policy  the  God 
of  truth  will  own  and  bless. 

You  will  be  gratified  by  hearing  that  the  Scotch  people  gather  about 
me.  They  say :  '  There 's  something  about  these  ither  churches 
we  dunna  like ;  but  ye  are  mair  like  our  ain  fouk  at  hame.'  They  do 
not  understand  Hopkinsianism,  can't  make  out  what  they  would  be  at. 
One  of  them  was  particularly  pleased  with  one  sermon  of  mine.  He 
could  not  tell  how  it  was,  but  it  ran  more  like  the  sermons  he  used  to 
love.  I  knew  the  reason.  I  had  carried  the  doctrine  of  substitution  and 
suretj^ship  in  a  strong  vein  throughout." 

"  Utica,  Ji/Zy  28,  1830. 

You  will  be  pleased  to  hear  that  thus  far  we  are  doing  very  well.  The 
pews  are  not  sold,  and  will  not  be  if  we  can  avoid  it,  our  wishes  being  to 
rent  or  lease  them.  I  cannot  therefore  say  who  my  congregation  will  be. 
It  is  however  ascertained  that  a  very  good  number,  and  among  them  the 
choice  people  of  the  town,  certainly  intend  to  join  us.  "We  have  our 
opponents  as  we  expected.  Their  attacks,  however,  they  have  not  dared 
to  make  openly ;  but  insidious  attempts,  to  impede  if  not  fi'ustrate  our 
designs,  have  not  been  wanting.  As  yet,  thanks  to  our  good  God,  we 
have  been  enabled  to  walk  so  circumspectly  as  to  give  no  occasion  for 
open  censure ;  and  the  worse  charges  against  me  you  will  not  be  dis- 
pleased to  learn  are,  '  Triangularism,'  *  and  others  similar. 

It  is  my  firm  conviction  that  this  church  may  be  instrumental  in  doing 
much  good,  not  only  as  a  centre  for  extensive  missionary  operations  of 

*  A  theological  term  of  the  day,  derived  from  n  book  called  '*  The  Triangle,"  and 
signifying  high-toned  Calvinism. 


our  own  church,  but  to  the  people  of  this  village.  It  has  already  had 
the  effect  of  allaying  the  bitterness  of  party  rancor  among  other  churcli- 
es,  and  I  hope  may  be  an  ark  to  preserve  the  law  of  the  Lord  entire, 
amid  the  flood  of  false  zeal  and  falser  doctrine  by  which  we  are  surround- 
ed. Already  have  they  endeavoured  to  leave  us  out  from  the  charitable 
enterprises  of  the  day,  by  cautiously  excluding  my  men  and  myself  from 
ail  offices  and  even  committees ;  but  the  effect  of  their  schemes  has  been 
neutralised  by  our  willingness  to  work  among  the  lowest,  and  to  give 
with  the  highest,  and  already  my  little  church  has  taken  a  stand  among 
the  most  energetic  and  liberal  in  tliis  section  of  country." 

The  climate  of  Utica  was  too  severe  for  Mrs.  Bethune's 
health^  and  another  southern  trip  became  necessary. 

"Utica,  October  5,  1830. 

The  communication  to  go  south  tliis  winter  and  to  leave  Utica,  has 
driven  my  friends  here  to  apparent  and  I  believe  real  despair.  They 
thmk  that  it  will  be  the  death  blow  to  the  church  and  to  all  the  efforts 
in  the  cause  of  truth  here. 

They  appear  to  acknowledge  the  necessity  of  Mary's  having  a  south- 
ern winter,  but  had  not  anticipated  my  leaving  them  altogether,  and  yet, 
if  I  go  to  the  south,  I  see  not  how  it  can  be  otherwise.  The  mariners' 
church  is  my  support  if  I  go,  and  I  cannot  take  that  except  I  remain 
from  November  till  the  end  of  May  ;  and  then,  again,  the  uncertainty  of 
the  subsequent  winter.  This  is  an  important  station.  I  am  persuaded 
a  congregation  can  be  gathered  with  the  ordinary  blessing  of  Providence, 
if  I  remain  ;  and,  I  believe,  I  would  be  paid  the  sum  stipulated.  I  also 
think  that  I  have  opportunities  of  improvement  here,  and  a  fair  opening 
for  establishing  my  reputation  in  the  Christian  community.  At  the  same 
time  there  are  many  difficulties  in  the  way. 

I  do  not  wish  tliis  enterprise  to  fail.  I  believe  it  to  be  intimately  con- 
nected with  the  cause  of  sound  truth.  I  know  not  what  to  do.  Dark- 
ness and  doubt  rest  upon  the  future.  I  have  thought  and  prayed,  and 
yet  I  am  in  darkness.  These  people  afflict  me.  The  cause  which  has 
somehow  become  entangled  with  me,  afflicts  me.  Do  write  to  me 
speedily,  decidedly  and  at  large,  and  excuse  my  indecision." 

90  MEMOIR   OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

Answer  to  the  above  from  New  York  : — 

*'  My  Dear  George  :  You  imposed  a  hard  task  upon  me,  and 
as  it  is  always  better  to  take  time  to  consider  and  pray  for  direction, 
I  have  not  answered  as  speedily  as  perhaps  you  wished.  Yesterday 
■was  our  communion  Sabbath,  and  you  and  your  concerns  were  upon  my 
mind.  This  forenoon  I  received  a  letter  from  Mr.  Schermerhorn,  lay- 
ing not  only  the  Dutch  church,  but  the  prosperity  or  ruin  of  his  family 
upon  the  advice  I  shall  give  you,  with  a  variety  of  appeals  to  my  con- 
science. The  words  which  came  to  my  mind  while  reading  his  letter 
were  those  which  the  parents  of  the  blind  man  said,  *'  He  is  of  age  ask 
him."  He  proposes  that  if  it  is  necessary  Mary  should  go  south,  that 
you  should  remain  and  she  go  with  a  companion ;  or  that  you  should  go 
and  return  early  in  the  spring.  I  presume  you  have  heard  all  his  argu- 
ments. .  .  .  You  may  make  a  virtue  of  necessity,  and  consent  to  be 
installed  in  Utica,  even  though  Mary's  health  render  your  going  south 
necessary.  But  there  is  another  circumstance  which  makes  Utica  less 
desirable  to  me.  Many  say  that  you  are  killing  yourself.  I  called  at 
Jersey  City  to  see  the  Colonel  and  Mrs.  Varick.  He  told  me  it  would 
never  do  for  you  to  labor  so  hard,  that  although  you  were  doing  a  great 
deal  of  good,  it  was  more  than  flesh  and  blood  could  stand.  I  must 
therefore  beg,  and  if  I  dare,  insist,  that  you  do  not  preach  more  than  twice 
on  the  Sabbath.  ...  I  can  give  no  further  advice  on  the  subject.  I 
cannot  consent  to  take  the  blame  of  all  the  exertions  made  to  establish  a 
Dutch  church,  and  to  advance  the  cause  of  truth  being  ruined,  as  well  as 
the  temporal  prosperity  of  Mr.  Schermerhorn's  family.  It  was  no  fault 
of  either  you  or  me  that  he  put  his  money  into  such  stock ;  and  you  and 
he  both  know  that  I  never  was  quite  satisfied  that  you  should  go  to 
Utica.  It  has  been  accompanied  by  some  sacrifices  on  my  part  as  well 
as  on  yours." 

In  the  latter  part  of  October,  the  church  at  Utica  was 
formed.  The  fears  of  the  anxious  mother  regarding*  the 
want  of  a  church,  and  especially  of  a  consistory,  proved 
unfounded ;  but  in  a  worldly,  temporal  point  of  view,  tlie 
wise  lady's  provisions  were  justified. 


TJiG  zealous  minister  writes  : — 

"There  is  an  unusual  number  of  young  men  among  us.  .  .  .  The 
other  folks,  the  extreme  IIojjs,  emphatically  let  us  alone,  hold  no  com- 
munion Avith  us  and  pass  by  on  the  other  side.  If  there  is  determined 
opposition  against  us,  (and  I  fear  there  is,)  it  is  secret.  No  charges  are 
brought  and  I  am  happy  to  believe  none  can  be  ;  for  whatever  unchris- 
tian feeling  may  have  obtained  in  our  hearts  none  has  appeared  in  our 
acts.  The  motto  I  have  endeavored  to  recommend  and  to  practise  upon 
is,  when  persecuted  let  us  bless,  when  reviled  let  us  revile  not  again. 
1  am  confident  that  I  am  in  a  good  school ;  caution,  prudence,  up- 
right walking,  the  government  of  the  tongue,  appear  vital  in  their 

The  installation  at  Utica  took  place  on  November  7th, 
and  on  the  following  Lord's  Day  he  preached  his  Inaugural 
Discourse  from  1  Cor.  ii.,  2,  entitled  "  The  cross  of  Christ 
the  only  theme  of  the  Preacher  of  Truth."  This  sermon 
gives  us  the  key-note  of  all  his  preaching. 

"Your  attention  will  not  be  diverted  from  the  more  important  topics 
of  eternal  interest  by  the  wire-drawn  speculations  of  mere  human  phil- 
osophy, nor  will  the  plain  and  simple  rules  of  tlie  Christian  faith  be  ob- 
scured and  entangled  by  the  metaphysical  jargon  of  modern  theology, 
falsely  so  called.  The  description  of  any  subject  inferior  to  those  of 
eternal  interest  will  be  considered  profane  and  insulting  in  the  house  of 
God.  All  amusements  or  interest  here,  must  be  sought  and  found,  not 
in  the  adornments  of  style  or  the  playfulness  of  fancy,  but  in  the  grave 
examination  of  solemn  truths  and  simple  illustration  of  heavenly  pre- 
cepts. You  will  not  be  assembled  on  the  Sabbath  to  listen  to  one  who 
hath  a  pleasant  song,  or  who  *  can  play  well  upon  an  instrument,'  even 
were  it  within  the  compass  of  your  pastor's  talents ;  but  to  hear  the 
words  of  truth  and  soberness.  It  will  be  his  endeavor  not  to  please  the 
itching  ear,  but  to  instruct  the  inquiring  soul  and  warm  the  pious  heart. 
Like  the  Master,  he  will  seek  to  draw  with  the  cords  of  love,  rather  than 
drive  with  the  scourge  of  terror.  .  .  .  iTidccd,  mv  beloved  friends,  the 

92  ME3I0IR   OF    GEO.    W.    BETIIUNE,    D.  D. 

cross  of  Christ  shall  be  my  welcome  and  continual  theme ;  and  whether  the 
rigorous  demands  of  the  violated  law  be  thundered,  or  the  sweet  accents 
of  forgiving  love  be  whispered  in  your  ears,  the  object  will  be  to  bring 
you  weeping  yet  thankful,  humble  yet  confident,  to  the  feet  of  the 
crucified  Hope  of  Israel,  xis  the  herald  of  His  cross,  the  preacher  of 
His  gospel,  the  messenger  of  His  love,  never  will  your  pastor  descend 
from  the  sacred  elevation  until  he  hath  pointed  it  out  as  the  rest  of 
the  weary,  the  refuge  of  the  condemned  and  the  shelter  of  the  lost." 

In  the  evening  there  was  an  ''Exhortation  to  prayer  for 
the  peace  of  Jerusalem."  Both  these  discourses  were  pub- 
lished at  the  request  of  the  people. 

Nothing  can  be  clearer  than  that  our  pastor  had  a  most 
arduous  and  difficult  task  in  building  up  the  church  in  Utica. 

Ilovey  K.  Clarke,  Esq., who  was  one  ofthe  earliest  converts 
under  Mr.  B.'s  ministry  at  Utica,  and  had  been  engaged  in 
the  founding  of  the  church,  kept  up  a  continual  correspond- 
ence with  the  man  whose  life  we  endeavor  faithfully  to  set 
forth.  He  has  furnished  much  interesting  matter  from  meui- 
ory  and  his  own  papers.     We  quote  his  statements  : 

*'  This  Church  had  then  been  recently  organized  and  was,  in  some 
degree,  the  result  of  a  condition  of  religious  opinion  existing  there ; 
especially  among  those  who  accepted  the  Calvinistic  standards  of  faith, 
with,  nevertheless,  such  differences  in  their  belief  as  would  scarcely 
fail  to  be  considered  as  of  vital  importance. 

About  three  years  before,  the  Rev.  Mr.  Finney  had,  during  an  entire 
winter,  preached  almost  every  evening  in  the  First  Presbyterian 
Church.  That  his  preaching  was  attended  by  the  power  of  the  Spirit 
of  God  there  can  be  no  question,  as  numerous  conversions  abundantly 
testified ;  conversions  which  after  the  lapse  of  nearly  forty  years  still 
attest  their  divine  origin.  But  the  sentiment  prevailing  in  that  locality 
gave  such  prominence  to  the  doctrines  preached  by  Mr.  Finney  and 
the  practices  employed  by  him  as  efficient  Instrumentalities  in  the 
work  of  conversion,  that  to  oppose  the  "new  measures"  or  to  doubt 


their  wisdom,  was  regarded  as  assuming  a  position  of  opposition  to  a 
manifest  work  of  grace.  Those  to  whom  this  position  was  assigned 
could  not  but  regard  Mr.  Finney's  preaching  as  a  departure  from  the 
standards  of  the  Church  in  which  he  was  ordained;  and  his  measiu-es 
as  unscriptural  and  therefore  dangerous  in  their  tendencies.  But  it 
was  a  fearful  responsibility  to  seem  to  oppose  a  revival.  It  was  easy 
to  sail  with  the  stream  which  seemed  to  bear  on  its  bosom  the  glad 
fruits  of  numerous  conversions  to  God.  New  measures  were  popular, 
and  those  who  could  not  adopt  them  nor  approve  the  doctrines,  of 
which  they  were  in  some  respects  the  outgrowth,  were  compelled  to 
silence  or  to  seek  other  religious  associations.  Such  influences  as 
these,  combining  with  others  which  are  seldom  wanting  on  such  occa- 
sions, resulted  in  the  organization  of  the  church  to  which  Mr.  Bethune 
was  now  called  to  be  the  Pastor. 

It  is  not  surprising  that  he  found  himself,  to  some  extent,  in  a  field 
of  controversy.  He  had  a  new  church  to  organize  and  build  up ;  a 
church  harmonious  in  all  the  substantial  of  its  faith,  and  yet,  if  not 
discordant  in  the  materials  of  which  it  was  composed,  as  it  certainly 
was  not,  it  was  nevertheless  not  perfectly  harmonious. 

He  was  not  long  moreover  in  making  the  sad  discovery  that  there 
were  those  to  whose  recognition  as  a  welcome  fellow-laborer  in  the  same 
service  he  might  have  supposed  himself  entitled,  who  regarded  him  as 
the  representative  of  a  dead  orthodoxy  —  one  whose  qualifications  for 
usefulness  might  be  derided  and  whose  influence  might  be  crippled 
without  offence  to  the  cause  of  evangelical  rehgion.  Under  such  cir- 
cumstances and  environed  by  an  atmosphere  of  prejudice  did  this  young 
minister  carry  on  his  labors  at  Utica.  His  two  sermons  on  the  day  of 
his  inauguration  have  already  been  referred  to.  The  inaugural  itself 
most  significantly  indicated  the  defensive  attitude  which  the  preacher 
felt  himself  obliged  to  maintain  by  its  frec[uent  references  to  the 
Heidelberg  and  the  Westminster  Confessions.  A  note  printed  on  tlie 
cover  of  the  pamphlet  which  contained  these  discourses  further  indi- 
cates the  personal  hostility  to  which  he  was  in  some  measure  subjected. 

As  an  appeal  to  the  Christian  public  to  be  treated  with  Christian 
courtesy  it  is  well  remembered  by  those  who  sympathized  with  the 
author  on  the  occasion  of  it.     It  was  as  follows  : 

94  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

"  The  author  of  these  sheets  is  not  without  information  that  his  the- 
ological opinions  have  been  grossly  misrepresented,  and  that  he  has 
been  designated  by  opprobrious  names,  '  Triangular,'  *  Antinomian,' 
*  A  preacher  of  smooth  things,'  &c.  His  every  discourse  is  a  refuta- 
tion of  such  charges,  but  such  refutation  is  of  no  avail  against  their  cen- 
sure who  condemn  without  hearing.  He  hopes  these  misrepresenta- 
tions have  been  unintentional,  and  he  assures  all  who  have  made  them, 
of  his  earnest  endeavor,  by  God's  grace,  to  forgive  the  deepest  injury  he 
can  suffer  from  man,  the  diminution  of  his  usefulness  in  his  Master's 
cause.  He  would  fain  forget  what  he  has  heard,  as  unfavorable  to  the 
cultivation  of  that  high  esteem  in  which  he  would  hold  the  followers 
of  the  same  kind  and  heavenly  Master.  To  be  altogether  silent, 
however,  would  be  to  permit  the  circumscription  of  his  ministerial  in- 
fluence. For  the  sake,  therefore,  of  the  truth  he  advocates,  he  has 
been  induced  to  publish  the  foregoing  discourses  as  an  exhibition  of 
his  creed ;  though  his  youth,  in  other  circumstances,  would  have  ex- 
horted him  to  retirement.  He  again  declares  that  his  creed  is  to  be 
found  in  the  books  of  his  Church  and  those  of  the  Presbyterian 
Church,  in  whose  schools  he  was  educated,  and  to  whose  ministry  he 
was  ordained,  though  subsequently,  from  deliberate  preference,  he  en- 
tered the  communion  of  the  Reformed  Dutch  Church.  If,  therefore, 
he  differs  from  any  one,  it  is  because  that  person  differs  from  the 
standards  of  faith  above  referred  to. 

He  is  not  ashamed  of  association  with  the  many  mighty  men,  since 
the  Reformation,  who  have  held  the  doctrines  he  holds  by  whatever 
name  calumny  may  stigmatize  them.  He  frankly  acknowledges  a  dis- 
like to  the  disposition  of  those  who  '  spend  their  time  in  nothing  else 
but  either  to  tell  or  to  hear  some  new  thing,'  but  loves  sound,  con- 
sistant,  stable  doctrine.  His  desire  is  'to  live  in  charity  with  all  men,' 
especially  *  with  the  household  of  faitb  ; '  and  he  asks  for  that  charity  in 
return  '  which  thinketh  no  evil,'  without  palpable  evidence,  and  his 
reliance  is  upon  Him,  '  who  endured  the  contradiction  of  sinners 
against  himself,'  and  who  '  when  reviled,  reviled  not  again.'" 

To  illustrate  the  nature  of  the  controversies  then  disturbing 


the  church,  and  Mr.  Bethune's  position,  we  quote  a  letter  of 
Mr.  Clarke : 

"  Canandaigua,  Sept.  21,  1831. 

Mr  Dear  Pastok  :  —  Nohvithstanding  our  separation,  I  shall  per- 
sist in  preserving  the  relation  of  Pastor  and  Parishioner  between  us, 
and  although  our  intercourse  will  be  seriously  interupted,  still,  I  trust 
that  the  pastoral  visits  of  your  pen  will  be  neither  'few  nor  far  be- 

As  you  anticipated  I  find  in  Mr. some  things  difierent  from  what 

I  found  in  you^  but  what  they  are  I  am  not  able,  clearly,  to  define.  He 
will  occasionally  flash  off  from  the  pulpit  a  sentence,  which  from  his 
tone,  manner  and  emphasis,  evidently  is  intended  for  the  Dutchman  of 

his  congregation,  or  rather,  as  Mrs. styles  me,  the  ♦  Consistory  of  the 

Dutch  Church  about  to  be  established  here.'     On  the  first  Sabbath  that 

Mr. resumed  the  duties  of  his  pulpit  (three  weeks  since),  he  made 

a  remark  of  this  kind,  viz  :  that  he  believed  the  Atonement  to  be  suffici- 
ent for  the  salvation  of  millions  of  Avorlds  and  not  merely  efficient  for  the 
salvation  of  those  that  believe ;  this  being  so  palpably  an  imitation  of  your 
language  when  expressing  the  contrary  to  the  sentiment  contained  in  the 
latter  clause,  that  it  needs  no  seer  to  explain  to  whom  he  pointed,  espe- 
cially when  taken  in  connection  with  a  remark  he  made  to  a  gentleman 
(who  resides  near  here)  in  my  presence,  and  probably  intended  for  my 

ear.     On  Mr.  S.  enquiring  of  Mr. if  'Mr.  Bethune  could  induce 

all  his  people  to  believe  with  him  in  a  limited  Atonement : '  '  Oh,' 
said  he,  *  Brother  Bethune  satisfies  them  by  saying  it  is  sufficient  for  all 

and  efficient  for  the  elect.'    Again  Mrs. says,  for  I  have  conversed 

more  with  her  upon  these  subjects,  that  you  are  a  Triangular.  Now,  I 
am  so  innocently  ignorant  of  the  virtues  and  the  vices  of  a  Triangular, 
that  I  am  ready  to  say  Avith  the  Irish  horse-jockey,  who  was  asked  if  his 
horse  were  spavined,  '  Och,  sure  he  is,  if  that's  any  advantage  to  him.'  " 

On  the  9th  of  January,  1832,  Mr.  Clarke  thanks  his 
correspondent  for  his  views  upon  the  nature  and  extent 
of  the  Atonement,  and  says  that  they  appear  more  rea- 
sonable  and   consistent   than   any  thing   heretofore   heard 

96  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

upon  it.  These  views  are  contained  in  a  letter  which,  to 
our  great  chagrin,  is  not  forthcoming.  It  would  be  cheaply 
purchased  with  ten  or  fifteen  pounds  of  the  paper  stock 
which  has  come  safely  to  hand.    Mr.  Clarke  writes   again 

May  7. 

"  By  the  way,  of  this  same  limited  Atonement  I  am  excessively  desir- 
ous of  knowing  whether  the  doctrine  we  profess,  namely,  the  sufficiency 
of  the  merits  of  the  death  of  Christ  for  the  salvation  of  all,  and  its  effi- 
ciency to  the  salvation  of  the  elect,  is  the  doctrine  of  the  '  limited 
Atonement.'  The  idea  that  I  have  received  here  of  it  is  that  Christ  weighed 
out,  as  it  were,  with  scrupulous  exactness,  the  amount  of  sin  committed, 
or  that  would  be  committed  by  the  elect,  and  by  his  sufferings  atoned  for 
that  and  no  more.  And  that  could  we  know  who  the  elect  were,  we 
should  have  no  right  to  offer  salvation  to  any  but  to  them.  Can  it  be 
tliat  this  is  the  doctrine  wliich  so  many  eminent  men  have  not  been 
ashamed  to  avow  ?  For  fear  that  it  should  be,  I  will  not  in  my  ignorance 
of  the  doctrines  of  tlie  Bible  with  all  their  collateral  bearings,  presume 
to  impeach  their  wisdom.  But  really,  if  it  is  so,  the  innumerable  invita- 
tions that  are  given  in  the  Bible,  to  all,  to  '  come  and  partake  of  the  Avaters 
of  life  freely,'  appear  to  me  very  like  a  farce.  God  offering  salvation  to 
lost  men,  through  Christ,  to  all,  when  he  has  made  provision  for  only  a 
part !  It  appears  to  me  perfectly  consistent  with  the  character  of  God 
to  offer  salvation  to  all  through  an  atonement,  the  merits  of  which,  so 
far  as  it  relates  to  their  sufficiency,  are  infinite ;  although  he  knows  that  a 
majority  will  absolutely  refuse  to  have  that  atonement  made  efficient  in 
their  salvation.  But  then  means  were  provided  and  salvation  offered ;  and 
man,  in  the  free  exercise  of  his  moral  agency,  refused.  I  am  Aveli  aware 
that  my  notions  upon  this  subject  are  crude,  and  perhaps  contradictory. 
It  is  for  this  reason  that  I  am  now  consulting  my  proper  spiritual  adviser. 
I  am  also  well  aware  that  the  weapon  which  many  tliink  proper  to  wield, 
and  which  they  do  at  times  with  singular  force,  is  ridicule.  A  doctrine 
of  which,  though  they  disbelieve  it,  a  correct  portrait  might  present 
some  points  favourable  to  belief;  they  choose  rather  to  render  odious, 
by  making  an  infamous  caricature.  However  I  am  thankful  that  I  can 
adopt  Got.  Granger's  motto,  '  Lux,  Lex  et  Libertas.*    Light  to  show  me 


what  the  Law  or  doctrine  is,  and  the  Liberty  of  conscience  to  exercise  my 
own  belief,  notwithstanding  I  am  in  a  hot-bed  of  opposition." 

The  answer  to  the  above  is  to  be  found  passim  in  the  writ- 
ings of  Dr.  Bethune.  In  lecture  xvii.  on  the  Heidelberg 
Catechism,  we  read  —  pp.  358  et  seq : 

"But  our  Lord  stood  not  in  tJie  room  of  a  single  sinner;  he  bore  the 
sins  of  many,  and  heaven  opened  to  us  by  the  vision  of  John,  shows  a 
mighty  host  redeemed  unto  God  by  his  blood.  Hence  his  sufferings 
were  incalculably  more  than  the  sufferings  of  any  one  mere  man  could 
have  been.  For  though  we  unhesitatingly,  and  not  without  horror, 
reject  the  idea  that  his  sufferings  were  weighed  out  to  him  in  exact  pro- 
portion to  the  sufferings  wliich  every  individual  of  all  he  redeemed, 
would  otherwise  have  actually  suffered ;  we  must  see  that  they  needed  to 
be  so  great  as  to  justify  God  in  taking  away  his  wrath  from  all  the 
Sa\iour's  people.  It  was,  among  other  reasons,  for  the  purpose  of 
strengthening  our  Lord's  humanity  to  endure  this  accumulated  aggre- 
gation of  suffering,  that  it  was  constituted  in  union  with  the  Divme 
Nature,  which  also  gave  to  his  sufferings  their  infinite  value.  So  the 
Catechism  says  that  he  sustained  the  wrath  of  God  against  the  sins  of 
all  mankind. 

This  last  sentence  requires  some  little  explanation,  lest  its  meaning 
should  be  misunderstood,  and  we  shall  give  it  conformably  to  the  com- 
ments of  the  learned  and  pious  Ursinus,  the  author  of  the  Catechism, 
and  therefore  the  best  expositor  of  its  sense.  The  idea  of  the  sentence 
is  that  of  several  scriptures,  as  where  our  Lord  declares  that  '  God  so 
loved  the  world '  as  to  give  liis  only  begotten  son ;  and  the  writer  to  the 
Hebrews,  that  Christ  tasted  death  for  every  man ;  and  Paul  that  he  gave 
himself  a  ransom  for  all ;  and  John  '  that  he  is  a  propitiation  for  our  sins, 
and  not  for  ours  only,  but  also  for  the  sins  of  the  whole  world.'  Yet 
Scripture  must  be  read  in  harmony  with  itself,  and  as  we  know  that  all 
men  are  not  actually  saved,  but  only  those  who  through  grace  being 
ordained  to  eternal  life  do  believe  and  repent,  it  cannot  be  that  our  Lord 
bore  the  wrath  of  God  against  the  sins  of  the  whole  world  in  the  same 
sense  or  degree  that  he  bore  it  in  the  room  of  his  people.  They  were 
actually  redeemed  by  his  blood,  he  having  taken  the  penalty  they  de- 

98  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

served  on  himself  so  that  their  satisfaction  was  certainly  secured  by 
his  Ticarious  satisfaction ;  but  the  rest  of  mankind,  though  they  have  so 
far  as  the  gospel  is  preached  to  them  opportunities  of  salvation,  are  con- 
demned to  death  eternal  without  violence  being  done  to  the  covenant  of 
the  Son  with  the  Father  in  the  plan  of. salvation. 

Thus  Christ  died  for  all  mankind,  because  in  him  the  blessings  of  sal- 
vation are  not  confined,  as  were  those  of  the  Abrahamic  dispensation,  to 
one  particular  people.  The  gospel  is  sent  throughout  all  the  world,  to 
be  preached  to  every  creature,  and  whosoever  will,  be  he  a  Jew  or  Gen- 
tile, may  take  of  the  water  of  life  freely.  As  several  of  the  later  fathers 
following  Tertullian  phrase  it,  EQs  merits  are  sufficient  for  all,  but  effi- 
cient for  the  elect.  And  Aquinas,  whom  the  Papists  call  the  Angelical 
Doctor,  teaches,  'The  merit  of  Christ,  as  concerns  its  sufficiency, 
equally  belongs  to  all  men  ;  but  as  to  its  efficacy,  the  effects  and  fruits 
of  it  are  mercifully  bestowed  on  some,  and,  by  the  just  judgment  of  God, 
withheld  from  others.'  Nor  can  tliis  be  otherwise,  since  it  were  prepos- 
terous to  ma,ke  Christ  the  substitute  of  those  that  refuse  his  representa- 
tion. But  it  is,  on  the  other  hand,  positively  true,  that  the  benefits  of 
Christ's  merit  do  actually,  though  not  in  a  saving  degree^  extend  to  all 
men ;  because  for  the  sake  of  Christ  all  temporal  mercies  come  to  all, 
and  the  world  is  kept  by  his  intercession  from  becoming  a  hell  of  ex- 
treme torture  and  despair ;  and  very  precious  blessings,  though  not  the 
most  precious,  are  bestowed  on  mankind  through  the  restraining  influ- 
ence of  Christianity  and  the  light  which  it  sheds  on  every  mind  wherever 
the  healing  beams  of  the  Sun  of  Eighteousness  sliine.  It  is  enough  for 
us  to  know  that,  if  we  believe  in  Christ  with  our  whole  heart,  his  merit 
will  certainly  save  us ;  but  if  we  refuse  the  grace  he  offi^rs,  not  all  the 
mercy  of  God  in  Christ  warrants  the  slightest  ho]pe  of  escape  from  ever- 
lasting death." 

We  add  a  passage  from  another  sermon  on  quite  a  differ- 
ent subject,  "  The  Strength  of  Christian  Charity." 

"  The  grace  of  God  is  infinite  in  the  merits  of  Christ,  the  Saviour,  for 
they  are  the  merits  of  God  incarnate.  It  was  the  Son  of  God  who  walked 
in  all  the  duties  of  man.     Who  dare  limit  the  reward  of  his  obedience  ? 

CALLS.  99 

It  was  the  Son  of  God  who  dwelt  in  the  sufferer  when  he  drank  the  cup 
of  trembling,  when  it  pleased  the  Father  to  bruise  him  and  to  put  him  to 
grief,  and  wlien,  pouring  out  his  soul  unto  death,  he  cried,  '  It  is  fin- 
ished.' "Who  dare  limit  the  power  of  his  atonement  ?  It  was  the  Son  of 
God  who  burst  the  bars  of  death  and  cleft  the  heavens  for  the  upward 
way  of  the  man  Christ  Jesus,  '  to  make  continual  intercession  for  us,' 
not  as  a  suppliant  kneeling  at  his  Father's  feet,  but  as  a  Son  and  a  Prince, 
the  true  Israel  sitting  at  the  right  hand  of  the  Majesty  on  high.  Who 
dare  limit  the  efficiency  of  his  prayers  ?  " 

"  Other  calls  will  not  be  wanting,"  said  Mrs.  J.  Bethune 
in  the  letter  to  her  son  touching  the  removal  to  Utica.  To 
show  how  true  this  was,  let  us  state  that  in  the  five  years 
Avhich  elapsed  from  his  entering  the  ministry  to  February, 
1831,  there  came  to  him  of  official  calls,  or  what  might  have 
been  such,  eight.  To  Savannah, to  St.  Augustine,  to  St.  Mary's, 
to  Rhinebeck,  to  Utica,  to  the  Market  St.  Church,  K  Y.— 
This  last  was  most  earnestly  backed  by  the  letter  of  his 
friend  John  Redfield. 

But  his  heart  was  given  to  Utica,  and  every  art  of  ingenu- 
ity was  employed  that  could  increase  his  usefulness  and 
strengthen  the  Church.  During  the  early  part  of  1831,  great 
attention  was  paid  to  the  young ;  and  the  professors  and  great 
lights  of  the  Dutch  denomination  were  introduced  into  his 
pulpit  to  advance  the  cause  of  sound  doctrine. 

Mrs.  J.  B.  to  her  son,  October  29,  1831.  In  this  letter  we 
have  notice  of  an  early  and  well-known  poetical  efibrt. 

"I  have  been  writing  and  getting  printed  a  lesson  on  the  Mariner's 
Compass.  I  read  it  to  Mr,  Seaton,  and  next  day  he  wrote  me  a  note 
saying  there  was  a  beautiful  Hymn  in  the  '  Lyra,'  which  he  thought 
would  suit  to  close  it.     I  sent  for  it  and  lo  and  behold,  it  was  yours  : 

*  Tossed  on  life's  tempestuous  billow.' 

I  bought  the  Seaman's  Hymn  Book  to  get  it.  I  had,  however,  pre- 
pared one  myself  which,  although  not  so  poetical,  is  more  suitable." 

100  MEMOIR    OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 


*'  Tossed  upon  life's  raging  billow, 

Sweet  it  is,  O,  Lord,  to  know 
Thou  hast  pressed  a  sailor's  pillow, 

And  canst  feel  a  sailor's  woe. 
Never  slumbering,  never  sleeping. 

Though  the  night  be  dark  and  drear, 
Thou,  the  faithful  watch  art  keeping, 

'  All,  all's  well ! '  thy  constant  cheer. 

And  though  loud  the  wind  is  howling, 

Fierce,  though  flash  the  lightnings  red, 
Darkly,  though  the  storm  cloud's  scowling, 

O'er  the  sailor's  anxious  head ; 
Thou  canst  calm  the  raging  ocean, 

All  its  noise  and  tumult  still, 
Hush  the  billow's  wild  commotion. 

At  the  bidding  of  thy  will. 

Thus  my  heart  the  hope  will  cherish. 

While  to  heaven  I  lift  mine  eye. 
Thou  wilt  save  me  ere  I  perish. 

Thou  wilt  hear  me  when  I  cry ; 
And,  though  mast  and  sail  be  riven. 

Life's  short  voyage  soon  be  o'er. 
Safely  moored  in  Heaven's  wide  haven. 

Storms  and  tempests  vex  no  more." 

We  are  at  a  loss  to  imagine  how  the  Editor  of  the  very 
popular  "  Songs  of  the  Sanctuary"  came  to  insert  this  hymn 
under  the  number  1322  as  "  anonymous."  His  taste  in  this 
direction  is  faultless  and  we  cannot  believe  that  he  had  seen 
the  original,  or  the  amendments  upon  Dr.  Bethune  would 
scarcely  have  been  permitted.  The  alteration,  we  admit,  is 
for  the  better,  and  yet  question  the  propriety  of  even  such  a 
change.  We  want  the  master's  work  as  he  left  it.  Men 
may  copy  a  picture,  but  it  is  a  shame  to  retouch  it. 

LETTERS.  101 

G.  W.  B.  TO  Mrs.  J.  B.  '*  Utica,  Novemher  25,  1831. 

My  congregation  is  in  a  very  quiet  state,  too  much  so  I  fear.  My 
heart,  rather  desponding,  probably  owing  to  bodily  indisposition.  I 
find  my  duties  exceedingly  arduous.  The  Lord,  however,  is,  I  trust, 
my  everlasting  strength.  I  am  charmed  with  the  Inf\int  School  lessons 
■which  appear  from  week  to  week  in  the  Messenger.  I  read  them  all, 
and  believe  that  I  receive  benefit  from  them." 

Answer  to  the  above,  28th  Nov. 

"  New  York,  Novemher  28,  1831. 
My  Beloved  Son:  —  I  have  this  day  yours  of  25th  instant,  and 
grieve  to  hear  that  you  are  not  well,  either  in  body  or  mind.  How  could 
you  fly  about  when  you  had  so  heavy  a  cold?  Mr.  Nasmith  told  me  you 
were  out  at  the  meeting  when  you  were  very  unwell.  I  pray  God  to  re- 
store you  and  spare  your  precious  life.  I  often  tremble  when  I  think 
how  many  of  your  companions  have  already  finished  their  course  and  I 
cry  out,  0,  that  my  son  might  be  spared  and  live  before  God.  O,  George, 
for  your  poor,  solitary,  widowed  mother's  sake,  for  your  dear  Mary's 
sake,  two  at  least,  whose  comfort  in  this  world  is  wrapt  up  in  you,  take 
care  of  yourself.  My  darling  son,  my  heart  is  pained  and  my  eyes  over- 
flow when  I  write;  would  that  I  could  fly  to  you  and  hold  your  aching 
head  and  cheer  your  desponding  heart.  I  hope  you  are  not  so  bad  as 
my  fears  represent.  O,  my  son,  look  to  Jesus  for  strength,  where  alone 
it  can  be  found.  Eemember  him  who  endured.  In  hiui  is  abundant 
fulness  for  all  you  want.  I  wish  you  would  give  up  one  service  on  the 
Sabbath.     It  is  too  much." 

"  Iron  sharpeneth  iron,  so  a  man  sharpeneth  the  counte- 
nance of  his  friend." 

"  A  man  "  (aye  every  inch)  writes  from  Canajoharie,  16th 
April,  to  "  his  friend"  in  Utica. 

"  My  Dear  Brother  :— I  received  yournote  of  invitation  yesterday — 
and  at  first  I  almost  imagined  myself  reading  the  'Lamentations  of 
Jeremiah.'  What  is  the  matter?  Is  your  church  in  a  state  of  dilapida- 
tion, or  had  vou  got  a  little  touch  of  the  hyp  ?    Your  station  is  undoubt- 

102  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

edly  one  of  great  importance  and  the  prosperity  of  your  church  will 
exert  an  extensive  influence  upon  the  surrounding  churches.  It  must,  in 
time,  become  the  Metropolis  of  the  "West.  But,  '■Nil  desperandum,'' 
Eome  was  not  built  in  a  day.  Neither  your  Master  in  heaven  nor  the 
church  on  earth  expect  that  you  will  do  more  than  your  thought  and 
abilities  enable  you  to  do.  Preach  Christ  and  Him  crucified,  and  if  in 
the  end  the  ship  is  wrecked  and  the  cargo  lost  you  may  cling  to  some 
floating  plank  and  escape  —  or  if  you  all  founder  together  —  your 
'  hands  will  be  clean  from  the  blood  of  all  men.'  But  report  says  that 
your  church  is  flourishing  —  increasing  in  numbers — in  popularity  —  in 
influence,  and  that  your  labors  are  highly  acceptable  to  the  people  and 
signally  blessed  of  God.  I  cannot  subscribe  to  one  sentence  of  your  let- 
ter —  '  that  the  Ministry  of  the  church  should  appear  to  advantage  in 
Utica.'  They  should  be  the  faithful  heralds  of  Salvation  —  the  world 
over —  wherever  they  go  they  should  be  about  their  '  Father's  business' 
and,  in  Utica  and  every  other  place,  leave  the  impression  upon  the  minds 
of  all  —  that  they  watch  for  souls  as  they  who  must  give  an  account.  If, 
as  a  church,  we  had  far  less  of  the  spirit  of  unhallowed  rivalry  and  vast- 
ly more  of  the  self-denj'ing  and  self-sacrificing  spirit  of  Paul,  the  smiles 
of  Heaven  would  shine  upon  us  more  brightly.  But  Utica  has  seen  the 
very  flower  of  the  flock,  the  very  quintessence  of  Dutch  Reformed 
celebrity,  the  choice  spirits  of  the  day.  Did  not  our  men  of  renov^u 
come  all  the  way  up  the  Hudson  and  the  Mohawk  to  edify,  astonish  and 
delight  the  inhabitants  of  these  western  wilds  by  their  wisdom  and  their 
eloquence?  Now,  if  the  citizens  of  Utica  are  not  deeply  impressed  with 
the  conviction,  that  the  Dutch  Church  abounds  in  talent  of  the  first 
water,  Pauls  and  ApoUoses,  then  they  must  be  stupid  as  oxen  and  ig- 
norant as  asses ;  or  if  these  Anakims  have  failed  to  leave  such  an  im- 
pression, what  can  such  little  men  as  compose  the  Classis  of  Montgom- 
ery do?  Kansford  Wklls." 

Tliis  little  correspondence  speaks  for  itself. 

It  may  be  well  to  quote  entire  a  specimen  of  our  minister's 
style  of  pastoral  letter-writing  in  1831,  in  order  to  a  compari- 
son with  bis  later  efforts  of  the  same  kind. 

To  Miss  S.  B.  M.  and  M.  A.  V.  ''  Utica,  1831. 

My  Dear  Young  Ladies  :  — It  is  long  since  I  promised  myself  the 

A  pastor's  letter.  103 

pleasure  of  addressing  you  —  and  more  than  once  have  I  commenced  a 
ietter,  but  have  been  called  away  from  the  pleasing  engagement  by  the 
many  and  various  duties  of  my  arduous  office. 

To  say  that  I  miss  you  is  but  poorly  to  express  the  reality.  My  heart 
goes  after  my  absent  lambs  whenever  I  am  reminded  of  your  absence  — 
I  miss  you  from  the  church,  the  lecture  room  and  the  prayer- meeting, 
where  you  were  over  glad  to  be  —  I  miss  you  from  the  choir  which  you 
joined  at  my  request  —  I  miss  you  from  the  Sabbath  scliool,  to  whose 
establishment  and  success  you  contributed  so  largely  —  I  miss  you  from 
tlie  Bible  class,  where  you  were  ever  attentive  and  well-informed  —  I 
miss  you  from  your  homes  where  you  ever  welcomed  me  with  pleasure 
—  I  miss  you  in  my  walks  where  I  so  often  met  your  smiling  faces  —  I 
do  not  forget  you,  my  sweet  young  friends  —  but  many  a  prayer  is  sent 
up  to  God  on  your  behalf,  as  well  from  the  meetings  of  God's  saints  as 
from  my  lonely  study. 

I  thank  God,  that  though  absent  from  me,  I  can  bring  you  in  my  faith  to 
Him  who  is  everywhere  present,  and  rejoice  in  hopes  that  the  Shepherd 
of  Israel  will  watch  my  precious  lambs. 

I  am  very  anxious  for  your  welfare  —  your  advantages  are,  indeed, 
many  —  but  many  also  are  your  temptations.  Eemember  the  first,  the 
highest  object  of  your  desire  should  be  '  the  Kingdom  of  God  and  His 
righteousness.'  All  things  else  will  be  vain  without  this  blessing.  And 
all  tilings  else  that  are  truly  profitable  will  be  added  to  it.  You  cannot 
have  forgotten  how  earnestly  and  repeatedly,  I  endeavored  to  impress 
this  upon  your  minds,  neither  can  you  have  forgotten  how  seriously  for 
a  considerable  time  at  least,  it  occupied  your  thoughts.  May  I  hope 
that  it  is  still  the  object  of  your  care? 

Have  not  your  new  pursuits  changed  the  current  of  your  thoughts  to 
other  channels  ?  Have  not  new  companions,  new  amusements,  and  new 
cares  distracted  your  thoughts  of  God  ?  Let  me  entreat  you  to  guard 
against  these  dangers.  The  soul,  the  soul,  my  young  friends,  the  undy- 
ing soul,  what  can  compensate  for  its  loss  !  Make  that  your  first  care, 
and  all  other  cares  subservient.  Let  me  earnestly  request  you  to  com- 
mence and  close  each  day  with  private  and  personal  devotion.  I  know 
you  will  have  difficulties  in  the  way :  the  want  of  sufficient  privacy  and 
punctual  regard  to  necessary  regulations  of  your  school.  But  where 
there  is  a  will,  God  generally  grants  a  way.     When  I  speak  of  devotion, 

104  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

I  do  not  mean  merely  prayer.  Other  duties  are  necessary  to  give  prayer 
its  proper  character  and  efficacy.  Self-examination  for  the  past,  and 
arrangement  for  the  future  will  be  found  necessary  to  teach  you  gratitude 
and  repentance,  and  the  need  of  counsel  and  strength  from  on  high. 

*  Sum  up  at  night  what  you  have  done  by  day, 
And  in  the  morning  what  thou  hast  to  do.' 
Then  read  a  portion  of  Scripture ;  it  need  not  be  long,  indeed  had  better 
be  short.  Consider  well  its  meaning  ;  meditate  upon  its  practical 
lessons ;  apply  them  to  yourselves.  Then,  with  a  heart  thus  prepared, 
you  may  pray  with  profit,  for  you  will  pray  with  the  understanding.  Es- 
pecially ask  God's  blessing  upon  your  studies  and  pursuits.  If  unsanc- 
tified  by  Divine  grace,  they  will  prove  curses  and  not  blessings.  If  pos- 
sible, have  one  text  upon  which  to  meditate  during  the  day.  Above  all, 
cultivate  repentance  toward  God  and  faith  in  our  Lord  Jesus  Clu-ist. 
Thus  living,  you  will  live  with  God,  to  God,  in  God,  and  God  will  live 
in  you. 

I  will  write  you,  I  hope,  soon  again,  but  shall  expect  an  answer  to 
prove  my  letters  are  welcome.  Mrs.  B.  is  enjoying  very  good  health, 
for  her,  and  sends  her  warm  love  to  you.  All  our  other  friends  are 
well.  Yours  aflfectionately, 

Geo.  "W.  Bethune." 

In  the  summer  of  1832  the  city  of  Utica  had  a  terrible  vis- 
itation of  the  Cholera.  The  wealthy  citizens  deserted  the 
place  and  nearly  all  the  ministers  of  religion  fled,  Mr.  Be- 
thune being  one  of  two  faithful  exceptions.  Projects  of  aid 
to  the  sick  and  dying  were  formed  but  there  were  none  to 
execute  them,  and  much  of  the  work  devolved  on  the  minis- 
ters themselves.  Our  pastor  was  indefatigable.  One  day 
going  his  rounds  he  found  a  person  sitting  on  a  bridge  with 
strong  symptoms  of  the  cholera,  and  asked,  "  Can  I  help 
you  home  ?"  The  poor  man  gasped,  ''  I  have  been  turned 
out  to  die.''  Kind  arms  were  put  around  him  and  he  was 
borne  to  the  parsonage.  The  physician  said,  "  We  will  have 
hard  work  to  save  him;"  but  the  case  yielded  to  active  treat- 


ment,  and  the  pains  ceased.  He  proved  to  be  a  clergyman, 
who  had  come  to  visit  a  brother,  but  not  finding  him  had 
put  up  at  the  hoteL  Feeling  in  the  night  that  he  was  ill, 
and  calling  for  help,  he  was  ordered  to  leave  the  house  ;  and 
he  laid  down  to  die  with  anxiety  lest  it  should  be  thought 
that  his  death  was  caused  by  drink,  as  his  breath  was  strong 
with  brandy,  taken  for  his  disease.  Many  expressions  of 
gratitude  were  given  by  this  discijile  of  Christ  for  the  merci- 
ful kindness  shown  to  a  stranger.  For  three  months  the 
plague  lasted. 

Several  meetings  were  held  in  behalf  of  the  Colonization 
cause,  at  which  appeared  a  young  man  in  a  homespun  white 
coat,  who,  by  his  sensible  remarks  and  deep  interest,  attracted 
general  attention,  but  none  knew  him.  After  a  while  White- 
coat  presented  to  Mr.  Bethune  a  letter  of  introduction,  recom- 
mending him  as  a  pious  young  man,  desiring  to  enter  the 
ministry,  but  without  means  of  support.  The  liberal  pastor 
at  once  became  his  patron,  offered  him  a  home  and  the  use  of 
his  library,  and  he  became  a  pleasant  member  of  the  family. 
White-coat  proved  to  be  Thomas  Buchanan.  He  followed 
Mr.  Bethune  to  Philadelphia,  but  there  abandoned  the  purpose 
of  the  ministry,  and  became  the  zealous  and  wise  Governor 
of  Liberia,  and  laid  broad  and  deep  the  foundations  of  the 
African  Republic.  Such  flowers  of  charity  made  beautiful 
all  the  path  of  our  minister. 

Mr.  Buchanan  died  at  Bassa  Cove,  in  Sept.,  1841.  His  pas- 
tor grieved  for  him  as  a  brother,  and  exclaimed,  "  I  regard  my 
early  and  intimate  acquaintance  with  Buchanan  as  one  of  the 
chief  blessings  for  which  I  should  give  thanks  to  God."  At 
the  request  of  the  Colonization  Society,  Dr.  Bethune  pre- 
pared a  Memorial  of  his  life  and  death,  which  has  been  pre- 
Returning  now  to  his  private  life,  we  find  him  longing  after 

106  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

and  rejoicing  at  the  prospect  of  a  wider  S23here  of  action.  A 
plan  is  proposed  by  his  friend  Varick  of  building  a  large 
church  for  him  in  New  York.  He  revels  in  the  idea  of  a 
"metropolitan  post  away  from  the  pettiness  of  a  village  life," 
and  where  his  "  time  would  not  be  cut  all  to  pieces  with  tri- 
fling engagements."  As  this  plan  never  went  into  realization, 
we  need  not  discuss  it ;  but  it  elicits  a  valuable  letter  to  his 
mother,  on  the  13th  December,  1832,  in  which  remarks  upon 
this  matter  and  family  affairs  are  so  mixed  up  as  to  make  the 
above  brief  abstract  all  that  can  with  propriety  be  placed  here. 
"  But  he  was  writing  to  his  mother,"  as  he  fondly  says. 

The  months  pass  on.  He  is  written  to  for  sermons  to  pub- 
lish in  a  volume  for  the  use  of  sailors  at  sea. 

Dr.  Spencer  asks  for  advice  on  the  question,  whether  he  shall 
assume  the  Presidency  of  Hamilton  College.  His  house  is 
not  comfortable,  and  he  would  fain  buy  a  new  one  for  86000. 
He  is  urged  by  his  mother  to  commence  the  memoir  of  his 
father,  in  order  that  she  may  aid  him  in  it  before  she  "  de- 
camps over  Jordan." 

He  suffers  from  illness  and  consequent  depression  of  spirits, 
thinks  "  his  prospects  of  usefulness  are  very  dark,  and  the 
fondness  for  nature,  for  which  he  was  so  well  known,  is  his 
comfort  in  this  every-day  annoyance,  and  for  which  he  gets 
so  little  sympathy. 

About  this  date,  too,  occurred  an  event  which  brought 
great  trial  upon  the  minister's  future  life.  A  severe  fall  in  the 
street  occasioned  injury  to  Mrs.  Bethune,  from  which  she 
never  recovered,  rendering  her  a  confirmed  invalid,  and 
often  a  great  sufferer. 

On  the  28th  October,  1833,  he  writes: 

"  It  is  now  more  than  autumn  with  us,  it  is  almost  winter,  and  would 
be  quite  so  in  any  other  climate.     The  air  to-day  has  been  filled  with 

TWENT  Y-E  rOHT .  107 

snow,  which  melted  as  it  fell.  I  can  only  enjoy  the  scene  from  my  win- 
dow, but  the  leafless  trees  and  the  sombre  sky,  with  all  their  melancholy 
accompaniments,  though  sad  and  soothing,  seem  to  have  a  common 
sympathy;  at  least  I  am  sure  I  love  tliis  season  better  than  I  could 
spring.  I  am  becoming  very  fond  of  nature ;  it  has  a  good  influence 
on  me.  I  am  persuaded  there  is  more  of  conscience  than  of  romance  in 
my  awakened  fondness  for  tliis  first  book  of  the  Creator's  hand.  I  think 
(I  may  be  deceived,  but  I  do  think)  my  desire  for  doing  good  to  my  fel- 
loAv-men  increases,  and  my  love  to  my  race  increases,  but  I  have  cer- 
tainly much  less  fondness  for  society  (as  such)  than  I  have  had.  I  find 
it  more  than  made  up  in  nature,  my  books,  and  communion  with  my 
God.  We  are  so  liable  to  be  misunderstood  and  hardly  judged  in  our 
most  aflfectionate  attempts  to  serve  others." 

Again  he  wiites : 

"I  am  getting  on  in  years,  — twenty-eight !  and  what  have  I  done? 
Alas !  how  much  of  life  is  made  up  of  littlenesses  and  trifles,  seemingly 
of  importance  at  the  moment,  but  as  notliing  in  the  retrospect.  Tlie 
ambitions,  the  jealousies,  the  strifes  and  the  formalities  of  time,  how  do 
they  keep  the  mind  from  eternity.  And  even  we  who  are  set  apart  for 
the  altar,  how  much  time  is  spent  in  mere  professional  arrangements,  — 
making  new  theories  and  combating  them,  —  contending  and  intriguing 
for  power.  Eternity !  It  seems  as  if  that  one  word  were  enough  to 
check  all  such  vain  imaginations.  I  have  no  wonder  that  more  people 
become  not  Christians,  when  the  Church  busies  herself  with  trifles  ;  my 
only  wonder  is,  that  men  do  not  stumble  at  our  folly,  and  fall  forever. 
What  will  Duffield's  big  book  on  Regeneration,  and  all  the  pamphlets  for 
and  against,  weigh  with  one  single  soul  ?  For  my  part  I  abandon  contro- 
versy. I  am  determined  to  walk  in  the  plain,  obvious  path  of  duty,  study- 
ing the  Scriptures  as  a  child  rather  than  a  pliilosopher,  and  endeavouring 
to  win  souls  for  my  Master." 

In  the  early  part  of  December  of  this  year  the  information 
of  a  unanimous  call  to  the  church  of  Poughkeepsie  gave  a 
tuni  to  his  ideas.  Perhaps  there  was  a  little  wish  that  was 
father  to  the  thought  when  he  hints  that  his  days  of  useful- 

108  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    CETHUNE,    D.  D. 

ness  in  Utica  are  over,  but  the  unfailing  counsellor  in  New 
York  is  ready  with  her  advice. 

''Jan.  6,  1834. 

I  have  thonght  that  a  church  that  kept  the  good  man  who  labored 
twenty-five  years  among  them,  with  a  growing  family,  on  a  pittance  of 
$  1000,  while  they  can  offer  a  young  one  $  1400,  cannot  be  a  very  liberal 
people.  You  would  enter  upon  a  people  already  formed,  and  habits 
fiscd.  They  would  expect  all  the  attentions  they  were  wont  to  receive, 
and  your  popular  talents  also.  You  might,  indeed,  not  be  under  the  ne- 
cessity of  studying  so  hard,  and  use  your  old  sermons,  but  would  that  be 
conducive  to  your  own  growth  in  the  divine  life?  Many  other  tilings 
occur  to  my  mind  connected  with  your  query,  '  How  shall  I  leave  my 
little  people  ? '  How  indeed  I  A  little  flock  gathered  together  by  your 
instrumentality,  for  whom  I  trust  you  have  travailed  in  birth  for  their 
souls,  who  love  you  for  your  Master's  sake  and  their  own  sake,  who  prize 
your  good  qualities  and  make  allowance  for  your  faults,  who  have  no 
former  pastor  to  lead  them  to  make  comparisons. 

Your  next  query,  '  Who  would  take  my  place  I  know  not; '  neither  do 
I;  but  this  I  know,  they  would  be  provided  for,  as  long  as  these  words 
stand  in  the  Bible,  '  I  will  never  leave  you  nor  forsake  you.'  Many  of 
them,  I  know,  think  the  church  would  go  down  if  you  leave  them ;  they 
trembled  at  the  idea  of  your  leaving  them  even  for  the  winter.  I  saw 
Mr.  Varick  on  Friday.  He  fairly  trembled  when  he  asked  me  if  you  had 
received  the  call,  adding,  '  if  he  accept  it  the  church  will  go  down.'  I 
begged  him  to  write  to  you  ;  he  said  he  would  be  in  Utica,  D.  V.,  tliis 

The  next  tiling  you  mention,  that  your  days  of  usefulness  are  done. 
It  is  not  true.  You  would  not  be  so  popular  if  they  were.  There  may 
be  a  dry  and  dead  time,  to  quicken  you  to  greater  diligence ;  to  lead  you 
more  to  look  to  Him  who  alone  can  direct  the  arrow  of  conviction,  apply 
the  word  preached,  to  build  up ;  and  the  balm  of  Gilead  to  heal  the 
wounded  conscience.  What  cannot  prayer  do  ?  As  to  the  other  reason, 
'  that  you  would  be  nearer  me,'  I  have  '  not  dared  to  trust  my  heart ' ;  but 
neither  that  nor  salary  ought  to  weigh  one  moment  with  you.  The  for- 
mer, your  present  people  will  probably  increase 

Your  dear  father,  grandmother,  and  your  own  mother  *  lent  you  unto  the 
Lord  all  the  days  of  your  life,'  and  solitary  as  your  widowed  mother  now 


sits,  she  would  not  take  back  the  loan,  nor  interfere  by  any  wish  of  hers 
to  take  you  from  or  keep  you  in  any  place  where  the  Lord's  Avork  is  to 
be  done  by  you." 

In  the  year  1833  a  discussion  took  place  generally  known 
as  the  "Wine  Controversy,"  in  which  our  minister  bore  a 
prominent  part,  and  which  involved  him  in  much  unpleasant- 
ness. At  this  distance  of  time  we  may  strive  in  vain  to 
awaken  interest  in  the  episode  ;  but  prejudice  Avill  have  died 
away,  and  as  the  occasion  served  to  display  much  of  the  man, 
and  led  him  to  take  a  position  on  the  great  moral  ques- 
tion from  which  he  never  swerved,  we  shall,  from  the  faith- 
ful papers  before  us,  draw  "  a  round  unvarnished  tale,"  and 


"Nothing  extenuate, 
Nor  set  down  aught  in  malice.'' 

The  Temperance  movement  was  now  taking  a  more  radical 
position.  Before  it  had  aimed  its  blow  simply  at  ardent  spirits, 
now  its  advocates  would  forbid  the  use  of  all  fermented 
liquors.  In  November,  1833,  Mr.  Bethune  was,  in  his 
capacity  as  chairman  of  the  Young  Men's  Temperance  So- 
ciety of  Oneida  County,  a  delegate  to  the  Convention  of  the 
fiiends  of  Temperance,  held  in  Utica.  In  the  course  of  dis- 
cussion, a  resolution  was  offered  that  the  drinking  of  wine 
and  beer,  as  well  as  ardent  spirits,  was  noxious,  and  denounc- 
ed by  the  sacred  writers.  Mr.  Bethune  opposed  this  resolution 
on  grounds  of  Scripture  and  expediency.  The  speech  must 
have  been  eloquent  and  powerful,  as  it  was  feared  that  it 
would  cause  the  loss  of  the  resolution.  It  must  have  possessed 
much  asperity,  if  we  judge  from  the  only  quotation  before  us, 
"The  drunkard  who  refuses  to  give  up  his  liquor  because  you 
do  not  give  up  your  wine,  is  not  honest.  If  he  tells  you  that 
is  the  reason,  he  lies."     He  was  answered  by  Dr.  Speed,  an- 

110  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

Other  delegate,  y/ho  remarked  that  it  was  the  young  clergy- 
man's own  fondness  for  wine,  and  his  disinclination  to  give 
up  its  use,  which  prompted  his  opposition.  Allusion  was  made 
to  a  certain  occasion,  when  the  delegate,  who  just  sat  down, 
had  indulged  ia  a  glass  of  beer,  and  an  impression  was  left 
on  the  mind  of  the  assembly  that  this  kind  of  indulgence 
was  a  matter  of  habit.  A  common  report  was  also  mention- 
ed that  the  Dutch  pastor's  table  was  loaded  with  different 
kinds  of  wine.  This  attack  was  met,  and  the  assertion  pas- 
sionately repudiated  by  Mr.  B.  The  resolution  was  indefi- 
nitely postponed  by  an  overwhelming  vote,  and  another  pro- 
posed, with  special  reference  to  the  attack,  regretting  its 
personal  allusions,  and  censuring  its  injurious  imputations, 
and  passed  by  acclamation.  At  the  close  of  the  meeting, 
the  clergyman  and  physician  met  on  friendly  terms,  and  the 
former  proposed,  as  a  peace  offering,  to  join  in  supplying  the 
other's  village  with  the  Temperance  Recorder.  Thus  the  affair 
ended.  But  on  Nov.  29th,  Dr.  Speed  wrote  to  Mr.  Bethune  a 
copious  letter,  in  which  he  apologizes  for  the  attack,  and 
hopes  that  the  two  are  friends  ;  and  still  he  reiterates  his 
remarks,  and  supports  them  by  the  sayings  of  others,  and 
in  fact,  opens  anew  the  whole  controversy. 

Meanwhile  Mr.  Bethune  addressed  E.  C.  Delavan,  Esq., 
protesting  against  the  latter  for  having  '*  called  the  time  "  to 
arrest  him  in  his  passionate  disclaimer  of  the  injurious  im- 
putation, and  requests  such  statements  in  the  Temperance 
Journal,  as  shall  convince  the  friends  of  the  writer,  that  he 
(Mr.  D.)  regretted  the  occurence. 

Quickly  Mr.  Bethune  replied  to  Dr.  S.,  dated  Dec.  6,  1833. 

"Allow  me  to  state  in  commencement  that  it  was  not  the  ridiculous 
charge  of  taking  a  glass  of  beer  that  drew  from  me  the  expression  of  in- 
dignant feelings ;  but  the  insinuation,  nay,  broad  assertion  that  it  was 


through  unwillingness  to  abandon  the  use  of  wine  myself,  that  I  was 
led  to  oppose  the  resolution.  I  had  expressly  and  solemnly  stated  that 
there  existed  no  such  unwillingness  on  my  part.  My  language,  as  re- 
ported by  the  New  York  Evangelist,  was  as  follows  : 

'  Sir,  I  do  not  plead  for  the  liberty  of  using  wine ;  so  impressed  am  I 
with  the  importance  of  the  Temperance  Reformation,  that  I  am  willing 
to  go  the  whole  if  necessary.  It  would  be  no  sacrifice  to  me.  I  confess 
that  I  do  occasionally  make  use  of  it,  but  seldom,  however.'  Notwith- 
standing this  positive  and  repeated  declaration,  you  did  not  hesitate  to 
lament  '  that  I  could  not  make  so  small  a  sacrifice.'  Sir,  this  represen- 
tation of  my  motives  was  charging  me  with  falsehood." 

After  denying  any  use  of  beer,  he  proceeds  : 

"  Now,  Sir,  can  no  man  differ  from  you  upon  a  question  of  expediency 
without  guilt  or  criminal  motives  ?  ]My  difficulties  are  Scriptural  and 
remain  unanswered  and  unanswerable.  If  they  are  not,  why  did  not 
you  or  some  one  else  answer  them  ?  Mr.  Dwight,  of  Geneva,  said  at 
tea,  'that  all  the  argument  was  upon  my  side,  the  only  question  was 
present  expediency.'  I  have  abandoned  wine,  beer,  and  cider,  myself, 
but  do  not  see  how  I  can  condemn  a  proper  occasional  use  of  them  in 
others.  Here  we  differ.  Is  your  opinion  the  sole  test  of  sound  truth 
and  moral  honesty?  God  promised  to  bless  the  vineyards  of  the  Jews. 
Why  ?  Two  thirds  of  Palestine  were  devoted  to  the  cultivation  of  the 
vine  and  olive.  Our  Saviour  made  wine ;  He  instituted  its  use  in  the 
Eucharist,  and  in  many  Scriptures  its  use  is  expressly  recommended  and 
enjoined.  Wine  countries  are  proverbially  temperate.  I  resided  once 
for  some  time  among  a  wine-drinking  people,  and  never  saw  a  drunkard. 
I  do  not  believe  that  the  common  people  can  ever  be  persuaded  to  use 
water  alone.  By  demanding  it  of  them  and  placing  every  drink  upon 
the  same  footing,  you  do,  I  conscientiously  believe,  retard  if  not  ruin 
the  cause. 

I  have  not  been  an  idler  in  the  Temperance  cause.  Like  Paul,  when 
unjustly  accused,  I  may  boast.  No  man  in  the  country,  excepting  Mr. 
Stewart,  has  laboured  more  in  the  cause  of  Temperance.  In  1828  I 
preached  upon  the  principle  of  Total  Abstinence,  when  scarce  a  man  in 
Dutchess  County  spoke  out  in  favour  of  Temperance  but  myself.  The 
sermon  was  printed.     The  Temperance  Societies  at  Rome  printed  my 

112  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

address  in  February  last.  The  Circular  of  the  Young  Men's  County- 
Temperance  Society  was  -written  by  myself.  I  am  a  member  of  that  So- 
ciety's Executive  Committee.  I  am  Chairman  of  a  committee  of  eight- 
een who  have  gone  a  great  way  toward  placing  the  pledge  before  every 
person  in  the  county.  I  am  Chairman  of  the  Young  Men's  State  Cen- 
tral Committee.  In  the  communion  of  the  church  over  which  I  preside, 
not  a  single  person  is  engaged  in  the  traffic  in  ardent  spirits.  Months 
have  passed  since  I  drank  wine,  except  in  one  instance,  .  .  .  My 
experience  has  been  that  of  my  Master,  to  be  called,  unjustly,  '  a  wine- 
bibber  and  a  gluttonous  man,  a  friend  of  publicans  and  sinners." 

Now,  singularly  enough,  the  two  disputants  referred  their 
difficulty  to  Mr.  Gerrit  Smith,  who  decided  that  our  minister 
had  laid  himself  open  to  suspicion  by  his  course  in  Conven- 
tion, combined  with  the  fact  that  he  had  not  given  up  wine, 
but  must  always  think  that  Dr.  Speed's  remarks  had  better 
have  been  made  in  the  private  ear  of  Mr.  Bethune. 

The  next  letter  from  Dr.  Speed  takes  advantage  of  the 
impetuosity  of  his  correspondent,  complains  of  the  reopen- 
ing of  the  controversy,  and  declares  that  Mr.  B.  had  mistaken 
the  spirit  of  his  epistle.  Whereupon  Bethune  rejoins  with 
spirit : — 

*'  January  3d,  1844. 
You  seem  to  complain  that  I  had  ripped  open  an  account  settled.  I 
had  considered  that  account  settled.  You,  sir,  would  never  have  heard 
a  word  from  me  on  the  matter.  But  in  your  letter  the  account  was  laid 
open.  I  had  supposed  yourself  satisfied.  I  had  supposed  the  Conven- 
tion satisfied  in  my  favor.  You,  then,  in  your  letter  took  pains  not  to 
apologise  for,  but  to  justify  your  act,  not  to  show  sorrow  for  my  out- 
raged feelings,  but  to  bring  the  testimony  of  other  anonymous  persons 
that  I  deserved  it  all.  You  thus  proved  to  me  that  so  far  from  having 
expiated  the  offence  by  the  apology  you  offered,  many  still  remained 
convinced  from  your  testimony  that  I  was  a  common  swiller  of  such 
stuff*,  and  that  my  objection  to  the  wine  question  was  not  conscientious 
but  personal.  All  this  may  have  been  done  with  good  intentions,  nay,  I 
believed  it  was  done  with  such,  but  one  may  have  good  intentions  towards 

LETTER   TO   DR.    SPEED.  113 

a  criminal ;  and  as  a  criminal  was  I  treated,  nay  as  the  basest  of  criminals, 
a  hypocritical  falsifier  of  pretences.  For  I  repeat,  to  believe  I  opposed 
the  question  from  any  other  than  conscientious  motives,  is  to  make  me 
such.  Had  I  then  no  cause  for  indignation  at  knowing  that  my  good 
name  had  been  injured  in  the  estimation  of  individuals  whom  I  never 
may  see  again  and  of  whose  names  I  am  studiously  kept  in  ignorance  ? 
But  for  those  statements  of  your  own  of  the  injurious  eflfects  of  your 
charge  upon  my  character,  I  would  never  have  dreamed  of  asking  any 
further  apology,  for  I  had  deemed  yours  before  the  Convention  was 
sufficient  and  also  that  yourself  would  have  been  my  vindicator  after 
what  you  had  said. 

Even  at  this  late  day  I  cannot  conceive  the  reason  of  your  statement 
in  Convention.  I  cannot  imagine  what  it  was  intended  to  effect.  Cer- 
tainly to  attack  the  character  of  a  prominent  friend  of  temperance  (as 
you  are  pleased  to  term  me),  is  not  the  way  to  sustain  the  cause.  But 
you  assert  that  your  motives  were  good  and  I  believe  you.  It  is,  how- 
ever, faith  entirely.     Sight  hath  nothing  to  do  with  it 

My  views  with  regard  to  the  wine  question,  though  a  water  drinker  my- 
self, remain  unchanged.  If  you  push  that  question  I  believe  you  will 
ruin  the  cause.  ...  So  thought  the  majority  of  our  Convention.  So 
thought  the  Connecticut  Convention.  If  I  err,  I  err  in  good  company, 
or,  do  we  all  love  our  wine  too  well  to  be  honest  ? 

I  shall  be  extremely  happy  in  any  way  to  testify  my  esteem  for  you, 
and  again  assert  that  the  doubt  of  my  candor  by  so  respectable  an 
individual  as  Dr.  Speed  gave  me  more  pain  than  anything  else. 
With  sentiments  of  unfeigned  regard  and  respect, 
I  am  yours, 

George  W.  Bethune.'* 

But  he  now  has  to  deal  with  Mr.  Delavan.  This  gentle- 
man's course  in  the  conduct  of  the  Temperance  Kecorder, 
was  calculated  to  misrepresent  the  action  of  the  Convention. 
Mr.  Bethune  addresses  him,  declaring  the  resolution  to  be 
^'  unwise,  proscriptive  and  unscriptural,  slanderous  to  the 
character  of  our  blessed  Master,  and  damnatory  of  the  very 
regulations  of  God." 

114  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.    D. 

Mr.  Bethune  disclaims  any  judgment  of  Mr.  Delavan's 
motives,  but  says  that  his  course  was  unfair  and  unwise. 

"You  will  gain  the  victory,"  the  pastor  says.  " There  is  fanaticism 
enough  to  carry  it.  But  you  will  ruin  your  cause.  "We  have  done  well 
here  for  two  years  past,  or  rather  for  the  past  year.  But  I  tremble  for 
the  future.  Look  at  your  own  city  !  behind  us  all,  and  in  consequence 
of  ultraism.  A  verdict  over  the  dead  body  of  the  Temperance  cause 
will  soon  be  taken  and  it  will  be  felo  de  se.  Its  epitaph  is  written. 
'Died  of  the  evil  it  opposed, — intemperance.'  I  do  not  know  that  I 
shall  write  against  the  question.  I  am  unwilling  to  court  more  abuse, 
but  I  do  trust  that  God  will  yet  deliver  us  from  ourselves." 

To  leave  no  stone  unturned,  a  letter  is  written  on  the  same 
day,  2Tth  Jan.,  by  our  eager  debater  to  his  friend,  Mr.  Hop- 
kins, urging  him  to  suggest  some  means  of  stopping  the 
wine  question.  "  We  are  almost  unanimous  here  in  Utica,'' 
he  says,  ''  but  the  country  members,  in  their  honest  but 
ignorant  heat  will  all  be  led  astray.  We  have  seen  an  end 
^of  all  perfection  ;  I  had  begun  to  make  the  temperance  cause 
an  idol.'' 

Such  was  the  reward  of  his  fidelity  to  a  good  cause.  Be- 
cause he  could  not  utter  the  Shibboleth  of  the  party,  because 
he  could  not  take  the  most  extreme  views,  because  he  could 
not  do  that  which  reason  and  conscience  alike  forbade,  he 
was  subject  to  denunciation.  It  cannot  be  doubted  that  the 
accusation  which  was  withdrawn  by  those  who  preferred  it, 
still  existed  in  the  public  mind  ;  and  a  man,  who,  above  most 
others,  lived  soberly,  righteously  and  godly,  acquired  the  re- 
putation of  a  free-liver.  Yet,  we  who  love  his  memory  re- 
joice that  this  controversy  took  place.  His  vehemence,  his 
asperity,  nay,  even  his  mistakes,  were  the  results  of  strong 
conviction  and  deep  earnestness.  He  uttered  the  words  ^ 
that  rose  to  his  lips,  not  because  they  were  expedient,  but  be- 


cause  they  were  right.  His  judgment  was  rarely  wrong  in 
any  matter  brought  fully  before  it ;  his  eye  was  single,  and  his 
whole  body  was  full  of  light.  It  is  fortunate  that  Time  was 
to  try  the  issue.  This  unfallible  judge  has  vindicated  his 
wisdom  and  justified  his  precision.  Experience  has  shown 
that  the  cause  of  Temperance  would  be  better  off  to-day  had 
his  conservative  counsel  been  followed. 

As  there  had  been  a  division  among  the  friends  of  Temper- 
ance, so  about  this  period  there  was  a  separation  of  those 
who  were  devoted  to  the  welfare  of  the  negro,  the  parties 
forming  the  Anti-Slavery  and  Colonization  Societies.  Mr. 
Bethune,  according  to  the  turn  of  his  mind,  went  with  the 
Conservative  section,  and  in  May,  1834,  he  repaired  to  New 
York  to  speak  on  the  Colonization  Anniversary.  The  Anti- 
Slavery  meeting  had  been  held  on  the  preceding  day,  and 
as  it  had  been  quite  successful,  some  friend  who  met  Bethune 
at  the  wharf,  informed  him  that  his  speech  could  do  no  good, 
as  his  favorite  society  was  dead.  But  his  fame  had  preced- 
ed him,  and  the  announcement  of  his  coming  drew  together 
an  audience  unusual  in  size  and  splendor.  It  was  an  as- 
sembly of  the  beauty  and  fashion  of  New  York.  He  took 
advantage  of  the  occasion  in  the  following  witty  style  : — 

"After  my  arrival  in  town,  where  I  expected  to  meet  a  friend  whom 
I  had  known  for  several  years,  and  whom  I  was  anxious  to  meet  again, 
I  was  informed,  to  my  grief  and  consternation,  that  he  was  dead  and 
buried;  for  that  the  funeral  obsequies  of  the  American  Colonization 
Society  were  attended  yesterday.  But  when  I  behold  this  numerous 
audience,  it  seems  as  if  there  had  been  a  resurrection,  —  for  it  is  a  col- 
lection of  the  most  beautiful  corpses  I  ever  saw.  They  remind  me  of 
two  lines  of  the  poet :  — 

'  On  the  cold  cheek  of  death  smiles  and  roses  are  blending, 
And  beauty  immortal  awakes  from  the  tomb.' 

116  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

Nor  can  I  forget  an  anecdote  that  I  heard  in  my  boyhood,  that  may 
well  apply  to  the  premature  interment  by  the  reverend  pastor  of  the 
Spring  street  Church  yesterday.  An  old  lady  took  it  into  her  head  that 
her  husband  was  about  to  die,  and  proceeded  to  the  undertaker's  to 
procure  the  necessary  apparatus  for  the  burial,  —  accordingly,  says  tlie 
couplet :  — 

*  Forth  went  the  good  lady  to  buy  him  a  coffin, 
But  when  she  came  back,  she  found  him  a-laughing.'" 

He  spoke  of  the  course  taken  by  the  Abolitionists  to  the 
Colonization  Society. 

The  speech  is  represented  as  one  of  great  power  ;  but  the 
reports  are  so  imperfect  as  to  render  them  unworthy  of  re- 

The  month  of  August,  1834,  saw  the  last  of  Mr.  Bethune's 
labors  in  Utica,  and  the  church  which  he  had  built  up  and 
made  so  strong  was  to  be  occupied  by  another.  From  the 
previous  date  no  event  of  special  interest  is  noted  in  his 
papers.  We  willingly  take  it  for  granted,  that  the  latter 
part  of  his  ministry  was  like  the  beginning ;  zealous,  able, 
and  useful  to  an  unusual  degree. 

Again  we  resort  to  the  valuable  memorial  of  H.  K.  Clarke, 

"Mr.  Bethune's  attention,  most  diligently  and  skillfully  bestowed 
upon  all  the  details  of  pastoral  labor,  by  which  his  people  might  be 
benefitted  or  the  welfare  of  his  congregation  promoted,  did  not  fail  to 
^reduce  the  most  gratifying  results.  In  the  organization  of  the  Sunday 
school,  he  was  made  its  Superintendent,  and  though  the  practical 
details  required  of  this  office  were  performed  by  his  assistants,  yet  his 
superintendency  was  real  and  constant,  and  those  who  remember  it 
will  add,  delightful.  By  making  the  lessons  of  the  Sabbath  school  and 
of  the  Bible  class,  which  he  conducted  upon  an  evening  during  the 
week,  identical,  he  became  the  teacher  of  the  teachers,  and  thus  left  the 
impression  of  his  teaching  upon  the  whole  school  each  week. 


"During  the  first  year  of  his  ministry  in  Utica,  and  while  the  health  of 
Mrs.  Bethune  permitted,  she  was  also  actively  engaged  in  teaching  the 
'  Infant '  department  of  the  Sabbath  school.  The  method  of  instruction 
employed  by  her  was  then  a  novelty;  but  it  was  the  most  at- 
tractive feature  of  the  exhibition  or  examination  of  the  school  which 
took  place  annually  on  Christmas.  These  occasions  afforded  an  oppor- 
tunity for  the  exercise  of  the  fine  talent  which  Mr.  Bethune  possessed 
for  lyrical  composition.  For  such  occasions  he  was  never  unprepared. 
Many  of  his  contributions  to  the  interest  of  such  and  similar  services 
are  still  known  and  cherished  by  thousands  who  have  no  knowledge  of 
their  authorship.  Floating  through  the  various  hymn  and  tune-books 
employed  by  Christian  people,  some  of  them  like  the  hymn  so  popular 
among  sailors, 

'  Tossed  upon  life's  raging  billow,' 
attributed  in  the  collection  to  'Anonymous,'  these  sacred  lyrics  have 
not  only  done  delightful  service  in  swelling  the  flow  of  pious  emotion  m 
Christian  hearts,  but  they  reflect  also  the  sweet  spirit  of  their  author. 
They  prove  that  he,  —  to  express  the  thought  in  his  own  words,  was 
*  Like  him  God  loved,  the  sweet-tongued  psalmist, 
Who  found  in  harp  and  holy  lay, 
The  charm  that  keeps  the  spirit  calmest.' 
While  thus  the  pastor  and  his  wife  were  actively  employed  in  the 
Sabbath  school,  neither  were  wanting  in  the,  manifestation  of  a  kindly 
zeal  in  all  the  plans  of  minor  moments,  by  which  the  school  might  be 
rendered  more  useful,   or  the   scholars  be   gratified.     Anything  that 
would  appropriately  accomplish  these  objects  was  neither  too  tnflmg 
nor  undignified  to  enlist  the  quick  sympathy  of  Mr.  Bethune.     On  a 
Friday  evening  previous  to  the  Fourth  of  July,  which  was  to  occur  on 
the  following  Monday,  the  teachers  of  the  Sabbath  school  were  assem- 
bled to  make  arrangements  for  the  participation  of  the  school  m  a 
general  celebration  of  this  anniversary  by  the  schools  of  the  city.     Mr. 
Bethune  overheard  an  expression  of  regret  that  the  school  would  be 
obliged  to  appear  without  a  banner,  while  it  was  known  that  several 
other  schools  had  handsomely-painted  banners  that  had  been  prepared 
for  former  occasions.     He  interrupted  these  regrets  with  '  Why  can't  we 
have  a  banner?'     'Because  there  is  not  time  to  get  one  painted;  this 
is  Friday  evening  and  the  celebration  will  be  on  Monday.'     '  There  is 

118  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

time  enough,'  he  replied  *  all  we  want  is  a  simple  field  of  white  silk,  — 
white,  to  indicate  the  purity  of  the  gospel  you  are  called  to  teach,  in- 
scribed Ilosanna!  the  shout  of  the  children  as  they  greeted  the  Saviour 
in  the  Temple,  surrounded  by  a  fringe  of  orange,  the  Dutch  color,  and 
we  shall  have  a  banner,  at  once  appropriate  and  descriptive.'    And  ap- 
pointing two  of  the  young  ladies  to  procure  the  thread  and  do  the 
needle-work,  and  one  of  the  young  men  to  procure  the  staff  and  the 
lettering,  that  arrangement  for  the  coming  celebration  was  made.     The 
banner  was   completed  on   Saturday  afternoon,  and,  in  its   place   on 
Monday,  it  fully  vindicated  the  ready  wit  and  pure  taste  of  its  designer. 
During  the  first  year  of  Mr.  Bethune's  service  in  the  church  at  Utica, 
that  remarkable  exhibition  of  the  power  of  the  Spirit,  which  will  be 
recognized  as  the  great  revival  of  1831,  was  felt  in  his  as  in  other 
churches  in  that  region.     The  absence  of  the  *  new  measures '  in  the 
services  of  the  Dutch  church  did  not  hinder  the  work  of  the  Spirit  there. 
Nor  did  the  employment  of  these  measures  in  other  churches  interrupt 
the  genial  flow  of  Christian  feeling,  nor  mar  the  harmony  with  which  all 
denominations  joined  to  praise  God  for  the  manifest  tokens  of  favor, 
which  these  scenes  displayed.     During  this  revival,  the  pastor  of  the 
Second  Presbyterian  church.  Dr.  Lansing,  was  called  to  mourn  the 
decease  of  his  wife.     The  session  of  his  church  desiring  to  relieve  their 
pastor  from  his  public  duties  on  the  Sabbath  following  that  event,  invited 
Mr.  Bethune  to  conduct  the  morning  service.     He  promptly  complied. 
It  was  a  memorable  and  most  interesting  service.     Tliis  young  '  preacher 
of  smooth  things,'  this  *  antinomian,'  this  '  individual  from  a  certain  city, 
a  circumlocution  applied  to  him  with  injurious  comments  in  a  religious 
paper  printed  in  the  city,  was  now  to  conduct  the  worship  of  a  congrega- 
tion where  the  prejudice  against  him  was  the  strongest.     The  circum- 
stances,  however,  were  propitious.     The  hearts  of  the  people  were 
subdued  by  the  bereavement  which  they  felt  in  the  liveliest  sympathy 
with  their  pastor.     The  presence  of   the   Spirit  as  displayed  in  the 
conversion  of  sinners  had  drawn  all  who  loved  the  Spirit  and  his  work 
into  close  communion.     It  was  to  such  a  congregation,  surrounded  by 
such  influences,  that  Mr.  Bethune  performed  that  memorable  half-day's 
service,  and  those  who  remember  with  what  pathos  and  power  his  soul 
went  forth  in  the  utterances  of  the  simple  truths  of  the  Gospel,  and 
what  a  wealth  of  tenderness  he  had  in  store  for  all  who  needed  the 
ministries  of  consolation,  will  not  wonder  why  that  service  was  a  memor- 

LOVE    FOR   THE    CIIURCH.  119 

able  one  to  all  who  participated  in  it  or  witnessed  any  of  its  effects. 
On  the  succeeding  Sabbath,  the  members  of  the  Second  church  crowded 
the  lecture-room  of  the  Dutch  church  at  the  morning  prayer-meeting, 
to  overflowing;  and  the  kindly  recognitions  of  brotherhood  in  Christ, 
which  were  there  interchanged,  removed  forever  the  asperity  of  feeling 
which  had  before  existed.  Differing  opinions  were  doubtless  still  held 
with  the  earnestness  of  conviction ;  but  the  injunction  to  *  love  the 
brethren,'  was  now  remembered  and  obeyed. 

The  communion  seasons  in  the  Dutch  church,  in  the  months  of 
January  and  April  1831,  were  signalized  by  large  accessions  to  the 
church  of  the  fruits  of  the  revival ;  and  if  souls  converted  are  '  crowns 
of  rejoicing  and  seals  to  the  ministry,'  of  those'who  were  instrumental 
in  producing  the  gracious  results,  then  great  will  be  the  rejoicings  of 
pastor  and  people  in  the  great  Day,  for  the  wisdom  and  tenderness  and 
faithfulness  by  which  the  new  communicants  at  these  seasons,  were  led 
first  to  the  cross  and  then  to  the  table  of  the  Lord. 

'  My  heart  clings,'  he  writes  in  September  1834,  after  his  removal  to 
Philadelx)hia,  to  one  who  had  been  brought  into  the  church  under  his 
instrumentality  during  the  revival  of  1831.  '  My  heart  clings  to  dear, 
dear  Utica,  the  scene  of  so  many  trials  and  joys,  the  place  of  warm 
friendships  and  bitter  opposition.  When  I  forget  her,  my  right  hand  will 
have  forgotten  its  cunning,  and  my  tongue  will  cleave  to  the  roof  of  my 
mouth.  Dear  little  church !  Peace  be  within  her  walls  and  plenteous- 
ness  within  her  dwellings,  for  my  brethren's  and  my  companions'  sakes,  I 
will  now  say  '  peace  be  within  thee.' ' 

And  again  in  July,  1842,  he  writes,  'what  a  pleasant  thing  it  is 
to  know  that  our  (it  is  still  ours^  little  church  at  Utica  is  quite 
filled  up.  God's  blessing  be  upon  it.  I  must  visit  th€m  this  summer 
if  permitted.' " 

It  is  difficult  to  follow  up  all  the  efforts  of  his  stirring  life. 
Letters  show  that  he  was  diligent  in  extending  his  denomin- 
ation through  western  New  York,  and  the  churches  in  that 
district  made  continual  appeals  to  him  for  help,  and  before 
leaving  the  city,  he  had  devised  large  educational  plans,  by 
which  he  thought  to  strengthen  the  Dutch  interest. 

120  MEMOIR    OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

Two  or  three  Utica  anecdotes  and  we  will  go  with  him  to 
Philadelphia.  In  the  course  of  his  ministration  at  Utica,  Dr. 
B.  at  one  time  caught  a  breath  of  dissatisfaction  on  the  part 
of  certain  individuals  in  his  congregation  at  something  he 
had  said  or  done.  It  was  mere  gossip,  but  his  extreme  sen- 
sibility was  at  once  alarmed;  and  agitated  he  hastened  to 
his  friend  Rathbone,  one  of  the  consistory,  and  besought  him 
to  say  wherein  he  had  sinned.  The  counsellor  knew  that  it 
was  all  trifling  gossip,  not  worth  a  second  thought,  and  quiet- 
ed his  minister's  iears  by  telling  him  so.  In  due  time, 
Bethune  applied  again  for  advice  on  a  like  occasion,  and  ex- 
acted a  promise  from  his  adviser,  that  should  any,  even  un- 
conscious, steps  from  the  paths  of  strict  decorum  be  discov- 
ed  by  Mr.  Rathbone,  he  would  instantly  and  frankly  tell  his 
friend  of  them.  Within  a  few  weeks,  the  Dominie  was 
again  in  great  alarm  at  his  friend's  office.  He  must  have 
done  something  wrong  1  He  was  ready  to  h  umble  himself  and 
ask  forgiveness  first  of  his  God,  and  next  of  his  people,  if  he 
could  only  know  what  it  was.  "  Well,"  said  Rathbone  with 
amazing  solemnity,  "I  am  obliged  to  tell  you  that  you  have 
at  last  been  guilty  of  a  very  bad  action,  a  dereliction  of 
duty,  sacrilegious  and  increditable,  committed  on  the  Sab- 
bath day,  and  on  your  way  to  the  sacred  desk  !  "  "  Do  my 
dear  friend,  if  you  love  me,"  said  the  other,  "  tell  me  what 
it  is  I  I  know  I  am  a  thoughtless,  wicked  creature,  but  I  will 
ask  and  deserve  my  people's  forgiveness,  if  I  may  only  know 
my  fault."  "Well,  I  suppose  I  must  tell  you,"  said  Rath- 
bone, without  moving  a  muscle.  "  When  you  were  going 
up  the  steps  of  the  church,  last  Sunday  morning,  I  was 
within  twenty  feet  of  you,  and  saw  the  act  myself,  you  dare 
not  deny  it,  you  took  two  steps  at  once !  " 

It  is  related  of  Dr.  Bethune  that  he  did  not  trouble  his 
friend  Rathbone  with  any  more  cases  of  conscience. 

THE    LOOK    OF   JiEPIJOOF.  121 

When  stopping  at  a  hotel  in  Utica,  a  gentleman  found 
himself,  in  a  moment  of  excitement,  betrayed  into  the  use  of 
an  oath.  Turning  round,  he  discovered  that  Mr.  Bethune 
was  present,  who  met  him  with  such  a  look  of  sorrow, 
mingled  with  tenderness,  as  overwhelmed  him.  It  had  more 
effect  than  the  most  powerful  sermon.  Not  a  word  was 
spoken,  it  was  only  a  look,  and  yet,  the  person  relates  that 
never  in  his  life  had  he  felt  so  reproved  and  penitent. 

To  the  facetious  belongs  the  following  note  from  Dr. 
Cummins,  the  celebrated  Romish  priest : 

Rev.  Me.  Bethuke.  "Utica,  Nov.  2,  1831. 

Rev.  and  Dear  Sir,  —  As  I  was  returning  home,  this  evening,  after 
our  very  agreeable  party  at  I\Ir.  Devereux's,  and  pleasantly  indulging 
my  fancy  on  the  subject  of  the  first  meeting  of  his  reverend  guests,  a 
very  singular  and  amusing  idea  crossed  my  mind.  As  you  love  a  joke 
I  would  have  gone  back  immediately,  and  presented  you  this  trifle  with 
all  its  laughing  levity  still  fresh  about  it ;  but  on  reflecting  that  it  be- 
longed to  the  class  of  riddles,  I  thought  it  better  not  to  set  your  wits 
a-hunting  for  the  answer,  at  a  moment  when  you  were,  perhaps,  enjoy- 
ing the  luxury  of  the  segar,  to  which  you  so  politely  invited  me,  or  pre- 
paring for  a  comfortable  nap  after  dinner. 

If  you  don't  soon  find  out  the  answer  to  my  riddle,  you  may  consult 
our  other  two  reverend  friends,  as  you  Avill  perceive  that  the  literary 
fame  of  each  of  us  four  is  equally  interested  in  the  solution  of  this  most 
important  question : 

Query.  —  Why  must  Mr.  Devereux's  reverend  guests  of  this  day  be 
recognized  by  every  scholar,  at  the  very  first  sound  of  their  names,  as 
the  four  most  eminent  and  leading  characters  in  the  modern  Republic  of 
letters  ? 

Je  vous  le  donne  a  deviner  en  quatre,  as  the  French  say.  En  at- 
tendant, veuillez  agreer,  mon  cher  Monsieur,  mes  respectueux  senti- 
ments. Cummins." 

The  fourth  gentleman   of  the  party  was  the   Rev.    Mr, 

Adams  of  the  Presbyterian  church. 

122  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 



Towards  the  middle  of  March,  1834,  Mr.  Bethune  receiv- 
ed a  letter,  which  was  meant  to  sound  him  as  to  whether  he 
was  inclined  to  be  a  candidate  for  the  pulpit  lately  vacated 
in  Philadelphia,  by  the  death  of  the  Rev.  G.  R.  Livingston. 
This  prospect  of  change  was  the  more  welcome,  as  the  cold 
climate  of  Utica  was  telling  upon  the  health  of  his  wife,  and 
the  medical  advice  which  was  thus  rendered  necessary,  was 
to  be  obtained  in  Philadelphia.  Added  to  this,  good  minis- 
terial society,  books,  scientific  lectures  and  ease  of  communi- 
cation with  New  York,  all  combined  to  tempt  him  to  change. 
The  proposal  v/as  taken  into  serious  consideration,  and  Mrs. 
Joanna  Bethune's  sage  opinions  were,  as  usual,  elicited. 
But  when  in  the  next  month,  an  invitation  came  to  repair  to 
Philadelphia  and  preach  on  trial,  the  proposal  was  repudi- 
ated on  the  spot.  Our  minister  professed  himself  at  all  times 
open  to  a  direct  call,  but  his  self-respect  recoiled  at  the  idea 
of  an  exhibition  of  his  capabilities.  "  Other  calls  were  not 
likely  to  be  wanting,"  and  he  thought  it  well,  even  in  a 
worldly  point  of  view,  to  stand  upon  his  dignity.  Accord- 
ingl}^  in  the  latter  part  of  May,  he  received  a  formal  call 
from  the  First  Reformed  Dutch  Church  of  Philadelphia,  Crown 
street,  and  the  sum  of  two  thousand  dollars  a  year  was  to 
free  him  from  worldly  cares  and  avocations,  while  engaged 
in  the  spiritual  duties  of  that  post.     Great  was  the  sorrow 


of  the  Utica  flock,  when,  on  the  29th  June,  their  good  pastor 
preached  his  farewell  sermon.  It  was  heard  by  a  large  con- 
gregation. "  Shall  I  tell  you  how  many  tears  have  been 
shed,  how  many  sighs  heaved,  and  how  many  prayers  offer- 
ed for  you  ?  But  no,  I  would  rather  say  that  the  blessing  of 
the  poor  and  needy  will  follow  you  whithersoever  you  go," 
wrote  a  humble  Christian. 

The  installation  took  place  in  September,  and  the  sermon 
was  preached  by  Rev.  Dr.  Mathews.  The  two  inaugural  dis- 
courses were  heard  by  very  crowded  houses,  and  afterwards 
published,  and  it  is  related  that  at  Mr.  Bethune's  first  ap- 
pearance in  the  pulpit,  a  most  thrilling  effect  was  produced 
by  the  simple  recital  of  the  Apostles'  Creed.  After  standing 
some  moments  with  his  right  hand  raised,  he  began  in  the 
most  solemn  manner  to  repeat  the  words,  his  loud,  clear  voice 
ringing  through  the  great  building  ;  the  vast  audience  were 
spell-bound,  and  a  most  impressive  silence  ensued  until  broken 
by  the  sound  of  the  organ.  The  new,  popular  and  well-known 
minister  found  himself  immersed  in  work,  within  reach  of 
every  necessary  of  literary  life,  and  spurred  to  vigorous  ex- 
ertion by  the  rivalry  of  his  peers.  He  writes,  ''  There  is  a 
strange  contrast  between  this  dull  population  and  lively  New 
York.  Indeed  I  have  some  fears  whether  I  can  ever  make 
that  impression  upon  the  city  I  could  wish.  My  tempera- 
ment and  mode  of  doing  tilings  is  so  different.  However, 
thei'e  is  nothing  so  good  as  effort,  except  reliance  upon  God. 
The  more  I  see  of  my  new  people,  the  more  I  feel  that  I  will 
be  useful  among  them.  Much  labor  and  pains  and  patience 
will  be  required." 

He  writes  to  Mrs.  Joanna  Bethune,  Nov.  19th  : 

*'  Every  day  for  a  week  past  I  have  determined  to  write,  but  have  been 
interrupted  until  too  late  for  the  mail.     I  have  been  paying  the  penalty 

124  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.    D. 

of  a  new-comer;  I  have  spoken  at  some  public  meeting  every  week  since 
I  have  been  here,  besides  a  thousand  applications,  &c.,  which  I  know 
not  how  to  dispose  of.  I  spoke  last  evening  for  the  Methodist  Ladies' 
Missionary  Society,  so  that  I  am  quite  *  promiskus,'  as  the  folks  say. 
My  own  congregation  is  doing  very  well.  In  a  few  days  there  will  not 
be  a  vacant  seat  below  stairs.  The  value  of  the  pews  on  sale  has  risen 
at  least  fifty  per  cent.  My  Bible  class,  also,  has  crossed  the  Rubicon, 
and  is  successful,  at  least  in  appearance. 

I  have  now  my  excellent  friend  Dr.  Ludlow  *  with  us  in  town,  whose 
sound  sense  will  be  a  great  personal  aid  to  me,  and  whose  official  station 
will  give  influence  to  our  congregation.  He  is  to  be  my  hearer.  I  think 
even  that  (if  I  do  not  carry  the  fear  of  man  too  far)  will  be  of  service 
to  me ;  I  will  not  dare  to  talk  carelessly  or  crudely  before  him.  I 
thought  I  would  enjoy  clerical  society  when  I  came  here,  but  I  find  very 
little  cordiality  on  the  part  of  the  clergy  generally,  and  I  have  very  little 
time  to  enjoy  the  intercourse  of  the  few  I  know.  Drs.  Cnyler  and  Lud- 
low are  my  especial  friends.  I  have  been  and  am  still  labouring  in- 
tensely hard;  I  never  strained  mind  and  body  so  much  before." 

When  we  learn  now  from  a  letter  of  23d  Dec.,  that,  having 
formed  the  determination  never  to  preach  an  old  sermon  if 
he  could  possibly  get  time  to  write  a  new  one,  he  had  just 
placed  the  No.  23  upon  the  last  written  since  he  came  to 
Philadelphia,  we  gain  a  sufficient  idea  both  of  the  fluency 
of  his  pen,  and  of  his  power  to  construe  hoc  age. 

He  was  equally  diligent  in  pastoral  works,  and,  by  the 
month  of  October,  had  visited  half  the  congregation,  hav- 
ing made  160  calls.  His  career  of  platform  speaking  was 
now  fairly  begun.  He  addresses  the  City  Tract  Society, 
promises  a  Charity  Sermon,  engages  for  a  Colonization  meet- 
ing. His  opinions  in  politics,  as  on  most  subjects,  were 
positive  and  well  considered. 

*  Dr.  Ludlow  was  Provost  of  the  University  of  Pennsylvania. 

roLiTiCAL  yiEv»'s.  125 

H.  I.  Kip  to  G.  W.  B.  "  rviiiNEDECK,  Jan.  H,  1835. 

I  have  been  told  that  you  too  have  veered  round  from  your  old  po- 
sition ;  but  I  did  not  design  to  enter  into  a  political  discussion,  so  I  will 
merely  say  that  if,  upon  mature  deliberation,  you  have  become  convinced 
that  the  present  administration  is  a  dangerous  one,  you  are  justifiable  in 
the  course  you  have  taken ;  else  we  might  as  well  live  under  a  king,  if 
we  are  not  permitted  to  change,  right  or  wrong ;  but,  as  for  myself,  I 
tliink  we  are  as  safe  and  as  prosperous  as  we  should  be  by  a  change,  for, 
to  tell  the  truth,  there  is  too  little  honesty  in  politics  at  the  present  day." 

G.  W.  B.  TO  IMrs.  J.  B.  *'  March  19. 

Yes,  my  dear  mother,  I  am  now  thirty  years  of  age.  In  all  proba- 
bility the  larger  half  of  my  life  is  past ;  and  while  I  feel  grateful  that  so 
many  opportunities  of  usefulness  have  been  granted  to  such  a  young 
man,  I  have  much  cause  for  sorrow  tliat  I  have  improved  them  no  better, 
and  deserve  so  little  the  success  with  which  God  has  sometimes  been 
pleased  to  honor  his  own  word  by  my  lips.  May  the  time  past  suffice 
me  to  have  wrought  so  much  for  myself  and  the  world,  and  the  future 
find  me  more  fervent  in  spirit,  diligent  in  business,  '  serving  the  Lord.' 
I  think  I  was  never  more  tried  in  my  ministerial  life  than  now,  by  the 
little  apparent  success  attending  my  labours.  There  are,  however,  many 
moral  causes  in  the  past  aflfecting  the  present  and  beyond  my  power  to 
control.  The  people  must  be  weaned  from  a  dependence  upon  measures 
of  their  own  contriving,  ere  we  can  expect  God  to  remember  them  in 

In  May,  1835  he  appeared  at  the  Anniversary  of  the  New 
York  Colonization  Society,  and  is  thus  noticed  by  the  N.  Y. 
Commercial  Advertiser. 

"  Rev.  Mr.  Bethune  addressed  the  meeting  in  his  peculiarly  happy 
vein,  and  delighted  tlie  audience  for  three-quarters  of  an  hour  with  great 
efiect.  We  have  listened  to  few  specimens  of  racy  humor  and  sarcasm 
more  felicitous  than  portions  of  this  speech ;  particularly  the  form  of  the 
report  which  it  will  become  Mr.  Geo.  Thompson  to  present  to  the  vener- 
able single  ladies  of  Glasgow,  who  have  sent  hira  over  to  emancipate  the 
slaves  of  the  South,  by  abusing  their  owners  at  the  North. 

126  MEMOIR   OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

**  He  spoke  as  follows:  The  question  then  returned  —  how  shall 
we  do  good  to  these  people?  Admitting  that  the  power  to  liberate 
or  not  to  liberate  them,  was  de  facto  in  the  hands  of  the  white  masters 
at  the  South,  two  things  were  needful :  first,  to  obtain  the  consent  of 
their  masters  ;  and  secondly,  to  show  how  the  benefit  may  be  conferred 
with  safety  to  those  who  receive  it,  the  poor  slaves  themselves.  One 
thing  was  certain ;  you  could  never  convince  any  such  man  unless  you 
approached  him  in  a  spirit  of  kindness  and  moderation,  a  spirit  which 
admitted  and  sympathized  with  the  difliculties  of  the  slave-holder.  The 
gospel,  while  it  testified  of  sin,  came  with  the  offer  of  grace  in  its  hand, 
with  sympathy  and  compassion  in  every  look  and  every  tone.  So  wliile 
it  was  a  Christian  duty  to  rebuke  the  sin  of  slave-holding,  and  to  search 
it  out,  yet  this  was  to  be  done  only  in  a  spirit  of  love  and  pity,  and  not 
in  a  spirit  of  denunciation,  and  rash  and  merciless  judgment.  What 
right  had  we  to  denounce  ?  Were  we  ourselves  so  clear  of  guilt  in  this 
matter?  And  if  we  were,  did  not  the  Son  of  God,  himself  without 
spot,  come  down  with  Heaven's  mercy,  not  to  condemn  the  world,  but 
that  the  world  through  him  might  be  saved  ?  Let  us  imitate  his  exam- 
ple :  let  us  act  in  his  spirit.  .  .  .  As  to  the  second  point,  viz.,  the 
safety  of  the  slave,  the  mode  of  relief  must  be  distinctly  shown.  Every 
great  object  of  a  national  kind  must  be  accomplished  gradually.  His- 
tory did  not  show  a  single  instance  where  it  had  been  effected  of"  a 
sudden.  The  Southern  people,  in  this  matter  of  emancipation,  held  the 
power  in  their  own  hands ;  and  it  was  nonsense  for  us  on  this  side  of  the 
Potomac  to  talk  authoritatively  in  the  case.  We  could  not  emancipate 
the  slaves  of  Southern  planters,  if  we  would :  the  duty  was  not  ours, 
but  theirs.  Now  it  was  obvious  that  when  an  address  was  directed  to 
conscience,  it  was,  and  must  always  be,  virtually  an  address  to  individ- 
uals. It  must  be  so  in  the  nature  of  things  ;  and  the  appeal  in  behalf 
of  liberating  the  slave  must  be  an  individual  appeal.  The  Northern 
people  came  to  a  Southern  slave-holder,  and  said  to  him  :  '  It  is  a  duty 
binding  on  you  to  abolish  slavery  as  soon  as  you  can.  If  you  will 
emancipate  your  slave  we  will  provide  him  a  home  upon  the  soil  of 
Africa.  We  are  aware  that  the  laws  of  your  State  forbid  you  to  set  him 
free  where  he  is ;  but  if  you  confide  him  to  our  care,  we  will  place  liim 
where  these  laws  cannot  reach  him,  and  where  he  may  walk  abroad  in 
the  erect  majesty  of  a  freeman.'  To  such  a  proposition  there  were 
many  slave-holders  ready  to  listen  ;  many  had  acted  upon  it ;  and  could 


any  man  doubt  that  one  such  example  would  have  more  influence 
toward  the  abolition  of  slavery  than  all  the  invectives  and  vituperations 
that  could  be  poured  out  upon  slave-holding  ?  Beyond  all  question  it 
would.  It  was  upon  the  eflfect  of  such  appeals  that  Mr.  B.  founded  his 
hopes  of  ultimate  success ;  and  he  believed  that  the  great  object  might 
thus  be  obtained  without  sending  out  all  the  colored  population  from  the 

But  it  was  said  that  to  send  them  to  Africa  was  impossible ;  it  could 
not  be  done.  Yet  was  it  not  a  fact  that  millions  upon  millions  of  slaves 
had  been  brought  from  Africa,  by  the  mere  cupidity  of  bad  men  ?  Were 
there  not  in  a  single  year  forty  thousand  carried  into  the  Brazils  alone  ? 
And  should  it  be  said  that  the  Christian  philanthropy  of  America,  backed 
by  all  our  abundant  and  increasing  national  wealth,  could  not  effect  what 
the  bare  avarice  of  the  slave-trader  had  done  and  was  every  day  doing? 
Surely,  if  the  Society  had  the  pecuniary  means  this  might  be  effected, 
and  they  should  have  had  more  of  those  means  but  for  the  interference 
of  those  who  insisted  upon  the  visionary  scheme  of  immediate  and  uni- 
versal emancipation.  Yet  no  ;  he  was  wrong.  The  Society  had  not  re- 
ceived less,  but  more,  in  consequence  of  the  abuse  of  its  opponents ;  a 
fact  in  which  he  recognized  with  joy,  the  fulfilment  of  God's  ancient 
promise,  that  the  wrath  of  man  should  praise  him. 

He  was  sorry  not  to  see  some  more  of  our  English  friends  present, 
and  while  speaking  of  them  he  could  not  help  thinking  what  sort  of  a 
reception  the  agent  of  the  Edinburg  ladies  (Mr.  Thompson)  would  meet 
on  his  return  to  his  constituents,  and  what  sort  of  a  report  he  would 
probably  make  on  the  subject  of  his  mission.  He  could  not  but  picture 
to  himself  the  fair  lady  President  enquiring, 

'  And  pray,  Mr.  Thompson,  what  did  you  do  in  America? ' 

To  this  he  thought  he  heard  the  agent  responding, 

♦  Why,  ladies,  I  made  speeches  there ;  for  which  one  part  of  my  audi- 
ence loudly  applauded  me,  and  another  part  as  loudly  hissed  me.' 

'  And  pray  where  did  you  make  your  speeches,  Mr.  Thompson  ?  Did 
you  go  to  that  part  of  the  country  where  slavery  prevailed,  and  tell  tliera 
how  wrong  it  was  ? ' 

'  Oh  no !  if  I  had  they  would  have  hanged  me  !  But  I  went  to  the 
Norihcm  States,  ladies,  and  I  told  them  what  wicked  people  they  were 
at  the  South.' 

*  But,  Mr.  Thompson,  had  the  people  of  the  North  any  power  to 
emancipate  the  slaves  of  tlie  Southern  holders?' 

128  ME3IOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETIIUXE,    D.  D. 

'  Oh  no,  no  more,  ladies,  than  you  have  yourselves.' 

*  Indeed !  and  then,  Mr.  Thompson,  why  did  you  not  stay  at  home, 
and  make  your  speeches  to  us  ?  ' 

'  But  pray,  Mr.  Thompson,  -while  you  were  in  the  United  States  were 
there  no  slaves  actually  liberated  and  placed  in  circumstances  of  comfort 
and  happiness  ? ' 

'  Oh,  yes,  ladies,  there  were  one  hundred  and  twenty  emancipated  and 
sent  to  Liberia  soon  after  my  arrival ;  and  preparations  were  making  to 
send  one  hundred  more  from  Savannah,  so  that,  in  a  few  months,  there 
were  two  hundred  and  twenty  delivered  entirely  and  forever  from 

*  And  by  whose  agency  was  the  emancipation  of  these  slaves  effected, 
Mr.  Thompson  ? ' 

'  Why,  ladies,  hy  the  very  people  against  whom  I  was  all  the  while 
directing  my  vituperative  speeches.'" 

Thi&  speech  was  delivered  at  a  time  when  feelings  ran 
very  high,  and  the  excitement  was  much  increased  by  the 
foreign  agents. 

"  By  the  way,"  he  writes,  June  loth,  "  Mr.  Garrison,  the  Abolitionist, 
after  two  or  three  columns  of  the  foulest  abuse,  says  my  zeal  for  coloni- 
zation may  arise  from  the  fact,  that  I  am  a  large  slave-holder  in  right  of 
my  wife.  They  are  a  beautiful  set  when  they  are  all  at  home.  The  Pa- 
troon  (bless  his  honest  Dutch  heart!)  has  given  a  thousand  dollars  to  my 
new  church,  which  goes  on  very  well." 

The  Synod  of  his  church  met  this  year  in  Albany,  where 
he  assumed  a  commanding  position,  being  elected  Vice 
President  of  the  body,  and  made  Chairman  of  the  Com- 
mittee on  Education.  He  was  hospitably  entertained 
by  General  Van  Rensselaer  (the  old  Patroon),  and  ''had 
never  seen  a  family  so  lovely  as  theirs.  There  is  an 
unaffected  piety  and  gentle  quiet  spread  among  them,  truly 
remarkable,  considering  their  circumstances." 

THE    NEW   CHURCH.  129 

Aug.  5  he  writes  to  Mrs.  J.  B. 

'^  You  will  be  pleased  to  hear  that  I  am  to  have  my  friend  Gosman 
with  me  in  Philadelphia.  lie  has  just  given  encouragement  to  the  Spring 
Garden  jjeople  that  l;e  will  accept." 

It  was  at  the  installation  of  Rev.  Dr.  Gosman  that  Mr. 
Bethiine  preached  his  sermon  already  alluded  to,  "Reasons 
for  preferring'  a  Union  with  the  Reformed  Dutch  Church  of 
North  America  ^' ;  an  eifort  in  which  a  structure  of  graceful 
eloquence  is  raised  upon  a  base  of  accurate  historj^ 

Now  came  a  new  excitement  to  awaken  the  interest  of  our 
minister.  The  old  church  in  Crown  street  was  very  crowd- 
ed, the  congregation  too  large  and  unwieldy  for  the  care  of  a 
single  minister ;  and  as  early  as  February  1835,  the  suggestion 
was  made  by  Rev.  Peter  Labagh,  "  whether  it  is  not  almost 
time  for  your  church  to  swarm  that  a  new  hive  may  be  col- 
lected." This  idea  must  have  been  greatly  encouraged  by 
the  promise  from  Gen.  Van  Rensselaer  of  $1000  towards  the 
enterprise.  This  promise  was  given  in  June,  and  directly 
a  meeting  was  called,  and  subscriptions  opened  for  the  ob- 
ject ;  but  no  active  steps  were  taken  until  Dec.  17,  1835, 
when,  at  a  meeting  held  at  the  house  of  Mr.  Bethune,  it 
was  solemnly  and  with  prayer  for  God's  help,  resolved  to 
commence  building  a  house  of  God,  on  the  lot  at  the 
corner  of  Tenth  and  Filbert  streets.  The  corner-stone  was 
laid  by  Gen.  Yan  Rensselaer,  May  3,  1836  ;  Rev.  Dr.  Ludlow 
made  an  address,  while  Mr.  Bethune  stated -the  reasons 
which  moved  their  action.  It  was  in  ''no  spirit  of  rivalry, 
they  came  away  in  peace,  and  left  their  friends  and  co-wor- 
shippers in  the  communion  of  the  kindest  feeling.  But  we 
return  to  the  personal. 

After  some   account   of   domestic   trials,    and    personal 

130  MEMOIR    OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

afflictions,  he  goes  on  :  — 

G.  W.  B.  TO  Mrs.  J.  B.  "  Jan.  7,  1836. 

I  am,  at  the  same  time,  in  the  midst  of  a  very  difficult  set  of  sermons, 
the  doctrines  of  the  person  and  life  of  Christ. 

I  used  to  think  I  could  feel  the  truth  of  Addison's  lines,  — 

'  Not  the  least  gift  a  cheerful  heart, 
To  taste  thy  gifts  with  joy.' 

I  can  hardly  get  up  to  the  cheerfulness  now,  but  I  can  thank  God  for 
patience.  I  am  the  more  submissive  to  his  hand,  because  I  think  I  have 
seen  that  I  deserve  much  more  than  I  have  received  of  chastening.  I 
am  a  very  proud  man,  and  need  humbling ;  a  reckless  man,  and  need 
sobriety.     I  am  learning,  I  trust. 

But  I  am  wrong  in  distressing  you,  who  have  so  much  trouble  of  your 
own.  I  ought  to  be  comforting  you ;  but  I  believe  I  shall  be  always  a 
child,  in  running  to  my  mother  when  I  feel  distressed.  I  have  the  sick 
with  me,  but  you  are  alone ;  yet  *  not  alone,'  I  trust,  for  God  is  with 

I  have  no  other  news,  except  that  my  friends  have  bought  the  lot  for 
the  new  church  at  $18,500,  and  are  about  contracting  for  the  building 
(Gothic),  at  ^25,000.  Total  expense,  $50,000.  Their  subscription  is 
already  above  $21,000. 

I  have  heard  nothing  more  from  Market  street.  It  would  not  have 
done  for  me  ;  I  need  a  different  sort  of  people  to  get  along  with  than  the 
mass  of  them.  Besides,  I  would  be  almost  as  far  from  you  as  I  am 

G.  W.  B.  TO  Mrs.  J.  B.  ''  February  15. 

You  seem  anxious,  from  some  observation  of  M.'s,  lest  D.  and  I 
should  quarrel  about  doctrine  :  give  yourself  no  uneasiness  on  that  score, 
I  am  determined  we  shall  not.  He  is  not,  however,  so  scrupulous  with 
me  as  with  you ;  and  I  have  not  the  slightest  doubt  meant  to  try  and 
convert  me  when  he  came  here.  Only  upon  one  occasion  had  we  any 
warmth.  He  had  denied  that  the  expression,  *  Ye  are  the  temples  of  the 
Holy  Ghost,'  taught  the  doctrine  of  the  Spirit's  dwelling  in  Christ's  peo- 
ple. He  said  it  meant  nothing  more  than  that  they  had  faith,  etc.,  which 
are  the  influences  of  the  Spirit.     I  told  him  I  believed  that  the  Spirit  of 


God  did  d\rell  in  God's  children.  He  laughed  long  and  loud,  and  said  it 
was  nonsense.  I  then  told  him  that  he  would  oblige  me  either  by  speak- 
ing reverently  of  what  he  knew  I  held  God's  truth,  or  not  at  all,  —  that  I 
could  not  bear  to  hear  my  own  f.iith  and  the  faith  of  my  fathers  ridiculed 
as  nonsense.  Since  then  we  have  got  along  very  well  together,  as  he  finds 
me  firm,  and  has  given  over  the  idea  of  converting  me  to  his  side." 

A  trip  to  Washington  in  behalf  of  his  favorite  Coloniza- 
tion Society  brought  him  in  contact  with  some  of  our  great 
men,  and  his  impressions  are  interesting. 

*'  I  spent  yesterday  in  the  Senate  Chamber.  I  heard  Mr.  Poindexter, 
Mr.  Benton,  and  Mr.  Calhoun  speak  with  great  power  in  thought,  but  I 
was  surprised  not  to  hear  better  English.  Mr.  Clay  made  short  but  en- 
ergetic speeches,  and  I  admired  him  very  much.  I  went  to  the  Presi- 
dent's levee.  Last  evening  I  spent  at  Mr.  Forsyth's,  among  a  brilliant 
crowd.  Poor  Mrs.  Forsyth  seemed  sick  of  the  whole  parade,  and  asked 
rae  if  I  did  not  think  it  possible  to  keep  religion  alive,  and  yet  be  found 
where  seeming  propriety  required  her  station  to  be.  I  met  Col.  Inly 
and  some  very  distinguished  foreigners.  Mr.  Webster  talked  delight- 
fully with  me;  so  did  Mr.  Calhoun.  I  addressed  a  little  compliment, 
wliich  he  swallowed  like  any  mortal." 

Now  the  state  of  his  affairs  opened  a  brilliant  prospect. 
Eeleased  from  the  care  of  Grown  street  church,  and  the  fact 
that  his  new  church  was  still  in  embryo,  without  a  place  of 
worship,  afforded  him  a  season  of  relief,  and  an  opportunity 
to  realize  a  golden  dream  of  youth  in  a  visit  to  the  old  world. 
Imagination  may  conceive  the  pleasure  with  which  a  mind, 
stored  with  classic  memories,  and  rich  with  poetic  beauties 
as  was  his,  would  revel  in  such  an  anticipation.  Let  us  hear 
his  own  account. 

After  devoting  a  page  to  the  account  of  a  great  missionary 
meeting,  of  which  the  whole  burden  and  anxiety  devolved 
upon  hira,  he  writes  ; 

132  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    AV.    BETIIUXE,    D.  D. 

G.  W.  B.  TO  Mrs.  J.  B.  ''April  2d. 

We  are  getting  on  in  our  liousehold  the  old  way.  Frances  is,  gen- 
erally, better  than  she  was,  but  Mary  improves  very  slowly,  and  is 
frequently  very  ill.  Dr.  Hodge  is  very  anxious  that  she  should  take  a 
voyage  ;  and,  by  the  way,  there  seems  a  prospect  of  my  having  a  better 
opportunity  of  going  to  Europe  than  would  be  likely  to  occur  again 
if  I  could  avail  myself  of  it. 

My  new  church,  the  corner-stone  of  which  will  be  laid  on  or  about 
the  first  of  May,  we  had  hoped  would  have  been  finished  in  November. 
This  is  now,  to  say  the  least,  doubtful;  and  twelve  months  may  elapse 
before  its  completion.  If,  therefore,  I  could  employ  the  interval  in  a 
voyage  and  tour  abroad,  it  might  be  serviceable.  A  fond  day-dream  I 
have  had  for  some  time  has  been,  going  to  the  MediteiTanean  in  the  sum- 
mer and  establishing  Mary,  with  some  attendant  friend,  in  some  place 
in  Italy  (Pisa,  for  instance,  where  living  is  cheap  and  the  climate  good, 
and  consequently  many  English  residents),  and  myself  looking  through 
Italy  and  Greece,  and  especially  Egypt  and  the  Holy  Land.  All  this 
could  be  done  before  spring,  when  we  could  go  to  England  in  time  for 
the  May  meetings,  and  have  some  months  of  the  twelve  there  and  in  my 
fatherland.  Such  a  tour  I  would  much  rather  make  than  to  spend  a 
longer  time  in  Great  Britain,  which  is  pretty  much  like  our  own  coun- 
try ;  and  as  a  preacher,  a  visit  to  Palestine  would  be  of  great  service  to 
me.  A  very  pretty  dream,  you  say,  —  but  when  we  cannot  have  the  re- 
ality dreams  are  pleasant  sometimes.  Yet  so  many  cross  the  water  who 
have  not  the  inducements  to  go  I  have,  that  I  sometimes  feel  a  little  im- 
patient. My  new  church  once  built,  fetters  will  be  around  me,  and 
the  thing  must  be  given  up  for  life." 

His  address  on  ChristiaD  mission^  was  printed  in  the  Evan- 
gelical Magazine,  July,  1836.  Excepting  this,  no  event  of 
special  interest  for  our  memoir  occurs,  until  in  the  same 
month  we  find  the  good  Domiuie  and  Yeffrow  on  ship  board, 
setting  sail  from  the  land,  and  breasting  the  waves  of  the 
Atlantic.  The  sea  afforded  that  repose  which  his  over- 
tasked faculties  so  much  needed  (there  had  been  a  fear  of 
blindness),  and  we  can  imagine  for  ourselves  the  charm  with 


which  his  genial  converse  and  merry  humor  would  enliven 
the  tedium  of  the  voyage  ;  quite  a  successful  one  for  those 
days,  but  tedious  enough  according  to  our  notions.  It  was 
thirty  days  before  they  saw  land,  reaching  Liverpool  August 
20,  and  Mr.  Bethune  was  but  little  benefitted.  Directly  he 
hies  to  Scotland,  and  finds  it  "  all  that  he  had  expected. '^ 

•'  When  we  came  to  'merry  CarHsle/  new  associations  were  present- 
ed constantly  to  my  mind.  You  know  hew  fond  I  have  been  of  bal- 
lads, particularly  Scotch,  and  of  Scott's  novels,  and  everything  relative 
to  the  border  wars.  Here  every  name  was  famihar;  there  was  the 
castle  of  Carlisle,  where  Fergus  Maclvor  in  '  Waverley'  was  confined, 
and  from  which  he  was  carried  to  the  scaffold  ;  here,  also,  the  three  out- 
laws were  brought  to  be  hanged,  as  an  old  ballad  tells  us,  which,  per- 
haps, you  do  not  remember.  There  we  crossed  the  very  river  on  the 
bridge  of  which  Maclvor  saw  the  ghost  which  foretold  his  death.  Then 
on  the  right  we  passed  Wetherby  Hall,  from  which  Lochinvar  stole  his 
bride  ;  and  then  •  Cannabie  Sea,'  over  which  they  chased ;  and  the  Esk, 
which  he  *  swam  when  ford  there  was  none  ' ;  after  that  we  passed  the 
Teviot,  the  Clyde,  the  Yarrow,  '  braw,  braw  lads  on  Yarrow  braes,' 
the  Ettrick,  the  Galla  Water,  leaving  Melrose  and  Dryburgh  on  the 
right  hand,  passing  in  full  view  of  Abbotsford,  Walter  Scott's  place. 
Edinburgh  is  most  beautifully  situated,  and  excelhng  in  beauty  any 
idea  I  had  ever  formed  of  it." 

At  Edinburgh  "  on  Sunday  morning,  I  went  to  hear  my  cousin  Mr. 
Marshall,  in  what  is  termed  the  Tolbooth,  or  Jail  Church;  it  is  the 
same  building  in  which  the  famous  escape  of  Robertson,  the  prisoner, 
occurred,  as  it  is  described  in  the  '  Heart  of  Mid  Lothian,'  but  the  wood- 
work is  very  much  modernised ;  under  the  same  roof  there  are  three 
churches,  for  it  was  originally  an  immense  Gothic  Cathredral.  On 
Monday  I  went  exploring  universities  in  what  is  termed  the  old  town, 
a  great  portion  of  which  is  built  in  ravines,  over  which  are  bridges 
also  covered  with  houses,  so  that  there  is  a  city  as  it  were  over  a  city. 
First  I  sought  out  the  house  in  which  my  grandmother  used  to  live, 
which  I  found  very  readily ;  then  I  went  through  the  libraries  which 

134  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE.    D.  D. 

are  very  large,  in  -wliicli  I  saw  some  fine  old  volumes  and  a  few  manu- 
scripts ;  among  the  rest  a  collection  of  the  genuine  letters  of  my  fa- 
vorite Mary  Queen  of  Scots  in  her  own  hand-writing,  they  were  prin- 
cipally to  her  mother,  and  breathed  much  of  the  affection  of  a  kind 
heart.  I  then  went  to  the  towers,  saw  the  Highland  regiment  there 
stationed,  and  the  ancient  regalia  of  Scotland.  I  saw  Allen  Ram- 
say's house  and  his  grave  ;  and  then  the  Grass  Market  where  the  mar- 
tyrs suffered,  passed  a  window  from  which  John  Knox  used  to  preach 
to  the  people,  and  then  to  Holy  rood  Palace  where  I  saw  the  State 
rooms  of  poor  Mary,  and  the  place  of  her  many  sorrows.  Every 
spot  has  an  historical  association." 

He  visited  the  birth-place  of  his  father,  and  had  a  warm 
reception  from  his  Scottish  cousins.  He  preached  a  Charity 
Sermon  with  good  results. 

**  The  beauty  of  Stirling  exceeds  almost  any  scenery  of  the  quiet 
kind  that  I  have  yet  viewed ;  the  castle  is  a  fine  old  pile,  and  of 
course  the  more  attractive  to  me  from  its  having  been  the  residence  of 
ray  uncle  for  so  long  a  time.  The  river  Forth  winds  in  a  most  extraor- 
dinary manner  near  it,  so  that  it  makes  twenty  miles  of  circuit  in 
going  seven.  Its  banks  are  full  of  interest  from  the  number  of  gen- 
tlemen's seats  and  ruined  buildings.  I  entered  Edinburgh  to-day 
from  a  new  quarter,  and  was  again  struck  with  its  superiority  to  any 
place  I  have  ever  seen.  I  was,  however,  much  amused  this  afternoon 
in  visiting  a  panorama  which  is  exhibiting  here  of  New  York — no 
one  I  am  sure  would  have  known  the  poor  city,  so  metamorphosed  is 
it  from  the  reality.  The  people,  however,  that  were  visiting  it, 
seemed  highly  delighted  and  pronounced  it  a  most  splendid  city. 
The  view  Is  supposed  to  be  taken  from  the  house  immediately  oppo- 
site St.  Paul's  Church.  Broadway  seemed  nearly  three  hundred  feet 
wide,  and  Columbia  College  close  to  the  river.  I  am  perfectly  de- 
lighted with  my  trip  to  the  Highlands.  The  variety  of  scenery  is 
beyond  description,  and  entirely  different  from  anything  I  have  ever 
seen  at  home.  I  found  Dalrymple  House  in  fine  preservation,  only 
it  is,  I  suppose,  the  residence  of  a  dozen  families;  and  there  is  a  grog 

CliOLY    AND   MELVILLE.  135 

shop  in  the  basement  kept  by  a  man  of  the  name  of  Graham,  who 
never  heard  of  Dahymple  House  m  his  life. 

Keturning  to  England,  "  I  stopped  at  Glastonbury,  where  I  saw 
the  oldest  Ecclesiastical  buildings,  or  rather  ruins  (though  one  church 
is  yet  standing  entire j  in  England;  here  tradition  asserts  that  Joseph 
of  Arimathea  landed  with  eleven  companions  some  forty  years  after 
Christ,  and  preached  the  gospel.  Here,  too,  King  Arthur  was  buried 
with  his  queen.  I  slept  in  the  very  place  which  was  formerly  the 
Pilgrim's  House." 

At  Bristol  a  series  of  Missionary  meetings  demanded  his  attention 
and  efforts. 

"London  turns  one's  head  upside  down  more  than  any  place  I 
have  ever  been  in ;  and  not  only  one's  head,  but  one's  time,  night  is 
day  and  day  is  night ;  if  you  chance  to  be  downstairs  before  ten,  it 
excites  quite  serious  astonishment ;  the  morning  closes  not  until  six 
in  the  evening,  and  then  dinner  occupies  you  until  ten,  so  that,  with 
the  best  intentions  in  the  world,  I  have  been  cheated  out  of  my  design 
of  writing  to  you. 

I  had  the  pleasure  of  hearing  Dr.  Croly  (the  author  of  Salathiel) 
in  the  morning,  and  Mr.  Melville  in  the  evening.  Croly  was  not 
at  all  profound,  and  of  course  shew^ed  no  great  things,  though  I  was 
gratified  in  seeing  him  and  speaking  to  him  afterwards.  He  is  a  very 
different  man  from  what  I  expected  —  being  tall,  stout,  and  ungainly, 
with  a  strong  Jewish  accent.  Melville,  I  feel  inclined  to  pronounce 
the  best  preacher  I  have  heard  in  England.  His  sermon  was  fervid 
though  cautious  and  earnest  without  cant.  The  text  he  chose  was 
from  2nd  Thessalonians  iii.,  IG  :  "  The  Lord  of  peace  grant  you  peace 
always  by  all  means."  The  tenor  of  the  discourse  was  to  show  that 
from  the  name  of  God  in  Christ,  the  God  of  peace,  we  might,  and 
ought,  at  all  times  and  in  every  variety  of  circumstances  to  enjoy 
serenity  and  quiet  of  soul.     It  was  sweet  as  well  as  strong. 

I  preached  last  night  at  Craven  Chapel,  to  an  enormous  audience, 
and  I  believe  with  acceptance  to  the  people  ;  Oh  !  that  it  may  be  with 
God's  blessing. 

There  is  quite  a  revival  in  ]\Ir.  Leifchilds's   church ;  and  you  will 

136  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

rejoice  with  me  when  I  tell  you  that  my  sermon  on  Sunday  evening 
has  been,  with  the  blessing  of  Divine  grace,  the  means  of  leading  three 
or  four  that  we  know  of  to  decide  for  the  Lord.  I  spoke  this  even- 
ing for  him  also,  and  to  do  away  some  of  the  bitter  prejudice  which 
exists,  I  told  them,  some  of  my  Oatland  stories,  which  aifected  many  to 
tears.  I  have  been  requested  to  give  a  sermon  for  publication 
in  the  same  series,  if  not  in  the  same  volume,  with  one  of  John 
Foster,  and  one  of  Mr.  McCall  of  Manchester,  and  I  have  promised 
to  write." 

Oatlands  mentioned  above  was  the  plantation  in  Georgia, 
where  he  labored  amongst  the  slaves.  In  the  course  of 
this  tour,  the  righteous  soul  of  our  minister  was  much 
vexed  with  the  injustice  done  to  his  countrj^ ;  and  he 
concluded  "  that  they  (English  people)  were  too  much 
beside  themselves  and  too  ignorant  on  that  subject  to  be 
talked  with.'^ 

AYhile  he  was  thus  enjojang  and  wandering,  disputing 
and  preaching,  perhaps  he  was  not  ill  pleased  to  learn  that 
the  work  upon  his  new  church  was  progressing  slowly,  and 
that  he  would  be  at  liberty  to  spend  the  winter  in  Europe, 
if  so  disposed.  We  soon  find  him  at  Dover  on  his  way  to 
France  and  Italy  ;  he  writes  from  Paris  : 

"  Brighton  is  the  place  where,  as  I  suppose  you  know,  the  king  has  a 
palace  or,  as  it  is  called,  a  Pavilion.  Here,  in  what  seems  to  me  a  very 
odd  taste,  the  English  come  as  to  a  watering-place  at  this  time  of  year 
(Dec.  4).  You  may  imagine  how  great  the  resort  is,  when  I  say  that 
the  place  contains  some  forty  thousand  inhabitants,  which  was  only  a 
fishing  village  before.  The  palace  is  a  very  singular  building  in  the 
Eastern  style,  with  singular  bell-shaped  turrets.  There  had  been  a 
violent  storm  a  few  days  before  we  reached  it,  and  the  place,  being 
entirely  exposed  to  the  sea,  bore  numerous  traces  of  its  devastating 
influence  ;  yet  in  spite  of  the  gale,  the  people,  ladies  and  all,  were 
walking  upon  the  pier,  with  their  garments  blowing  about  in  very  odd 


style,  yet  as  it  is  the  fsisliion  they  bore  it  with  no  small  philosophy. 
Hastings  too,  is  quite  a  striking  place,  the  buildings  are  really  beautiful. 
That  is  the  place  where  William  the  Conqueror  fought  his  famous  battle 
on  invading  England.  Dover  is  the  place  where  the  white  cliflfs  of 
chalk  are,  which  have  given  to  England  the  name  of  white-cliffed 
England.  You  remember  Shakespeare's  description  of  Dover  in  Lear; 
but  certainly  Shakespeare  had  never  seen  an  American  cliff,  or  he 
would  never  have  made  such  a  fuss  about  these. 

I  have  seen  nothing  very  remarkable  in  France,  until  we  reached  this 
city  except  the  great  number  of  wind-mills,  which  are  so  frequent  that 
they  are  enough  to  turn  one's  head.  A  French  diligence  is,  however, 
a  most  extraordinary  affair.  It  is,  properly  speaking,  composed  of 
three  parts;  the  coupe  which  is  exactly  like  an  English  chariot;  the 
rotonde  which  is  like  a  post-coach,  and  the  interieur  which  is  the  same 
only  opening  behind ;  besides  these  there  is  a  place  upon  tlie  top  where 
all  the  baggage  is  stowed,  the  name  of  which  I  forget  but  which  is 
capable  of  holding  a  number  of  persons,  so  that  altogether  there  may 
be  some  twenty  passengers  with  the  driver  and  conducteur.  This  huge 
machine  is  upon  four  wheels,  and  drawn  sometimes  by  four,  sometimes 
by  five  and  even  six  horses.  If  there  are  five,  the  three  horses  are  put 
on  the  lead.  The  harness  is  made  up  of  ropes  and  chains  and  wood 
and  leather,  in  the  most  grotesque  manner,  and  thus  you  are  dragged 
over  the  paved  roads  at  about  four  or  five  miles  an  hour.  It  is  really 
quite  astonishing  that  they  do  not  upset  the  concern  a  dozen  times  a 
day,  for  the  French  drivers  manage  their  horses  apparently  with  the 
worst  possible  skill,  yet  they  get  along  with  very  few  accidents." 

The  following  letter  to  an  old  friend  gives  a  valuable 
resume  of  our  traveller's  impressions  up  to  this  period. 

G.  W.  B.  TO  Miss  Euphesiia  Van  Rensselaer. 

"  Paeis,  Decemher  26,  1836. 

I  am  sure  your  goodness  will  pardon  my  finding  a  solace  for  my 

feelings  in  expressing  them  to  you,  however  unmindful  I  may  seem  to 

have  been  of  the  privilege  you  gave  me  of  sending  you  an  account  of 

my  wanderings.     My  excuses  on  that  score  have  been  already  made. 

138  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    \V.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

It  is  too  late  now  to  begin  a  detailed  description  of  the  many  places 
of  interest  I  have  visited.  My  extreme  hurry  prevents  it  at  the  proper 
time,  and  I  must  wait  for  that  pleasure  until  I  return;  but  you  will 
not  consider  me  too  bold  in  saying  that  in  every  scene  of  natural 
beauty,  or  historical  association,  I  found  additional  delight  from  the 
hope  of  being  permitted  to  describe  it  to  you  at  some  future  day.  To 
say  I  have  been  gratified  by  my  visit  to  the  Old  World,  would  not  be 
half  the  truth.  I  have  been  instructed  and  rebuked ;  instructed  by  the 
perception  of  new  claims  upon  my  charity,  and  rebuked  for  a  thousand 
prejudices  I  had  insensibly  allowed  to  grow  up  in  my  mind.  Everywhere 
I  have  been  met  with  kindness,  unexpected  as  it  was  unmerited;  and  I 
hope  never  again  to  confine  my  idea  of  neighborhood  to  narrower 
limits  than  the  family  of  man.  O  for  a  heart  like  His,  who  so  loved  the 
world  as  to  give  himself  for  it.  How  ungrateful  I  have  been  to  waste 
so  many  thoughts  and  hours  upon  myself,  when  there  are  so  many 
immortal  beings  whom  he  has  commanded  me  to  serve.  I  was  much 
pleased  with  England.  The  English  are  truly  a  wonderful  people.  It 
is  impossible  to  travel  however  rapidly  through  their  country  without 
being  impressed  by  the  mightiness  of  their  strength.  The  majestic 
dignity  of  age  is  combined  with  the  vigor  of  youth.  Time,  which 
wears  away  all  else,  has  delighted  to  confirm  and  extend  the  founda- 
tions of  their  prosperity.  It  is  little  less  than  sublime  to  see  their 
aristocratic  families  flourishing  and  happy,  beneath  the  same  gray  roofs 
which  have  sheltered  their  fathers  for  a  thousand  years ;  or  to  join  the 
rustic  worshippers  in  the  ivy-covered  church,  whose  aisles  are  worn  by 
the  footsteps  of  many  generations  who  have  there  breathed  the  same 
prayers  and  sung  the  same  hymns  of  holy  praise.  There  is  poverty, 
bitter,  hopeless  poverty  in  England,  poverty  such  as  is  unknown  in 
our  happier  land,  and  it  is  painful  to  compare  the  price  of  humble  labor 
with  the  price  of  food;  but  excepting  in  the  larger  towns  poverty  is 
rarely  seen.  The  same  taste  which  leads  the  rich  man  to  study  the 
effect  of  every  tree  in  his  wide  domain,  teaches  him  to  hide  from  the 
eye  the  displeasing  contrast  of  squalid  want.  The  cottage  of  the 
village  pauper  is  covered  with  the  woodbine  and  creeping  multiflora ; 
while  the  starving  wretch  is  forbidden  to  beg  with  the  same  sternness 
that  he  is  forbidden  to  steal.  I  do  not  mean  to  say  that  there  is  no 
pity  for  the  poor  in  England,  on  the  contrary,  their  charity  is  un- 


equalled,  but  from  the  density  of  the  population  it  is  impossible  to 
relieve  all  the  distressed,  and  many  an  outcast  perishes  from  want 
before  the  parish  almoners  can  determine  who  are  tlie  proper  guardians 
of  his  welfare.  There  is,  however,  not  a  little  ostentation  in  the 
manner  of  their  charity.  It  is  not  an  unusual  thing  for  the  visitor  to 
be  shown  the  almshouses  of  an  estate  as  part  of  its  architectural 
adornments.  I  could  not  help  smiling  at  a  pompous  inscription  over 
a  row  of  three  or  four  which  declares  them  to  have  been  'founded  and 
endowed  by  the  bounty '  of  that  Duchess  of  Marlborough,  who,  you 
remember,  was  notorious  for  her  avarice.  They  shelter  some  half-a- 
dozen  poor  widows,  and  stand  close  to  the  princely  portal  through 
which  you  pass  to  find  Blenheim  House.  It  is  very  difficult  to  say  how 
the  many  evils  which  undoubtedly  exist  in  England  may  be  remedied. 
After  as  careful  a  study  as  my  opportunities  allowed  me  to  give  the 
subject,  I  am  rather  inclined  to  be  a  tory  in  English  politics.  At  least 
I  would  hold  hard  upon  the  wheels  of  reform  to  check  if  possible  its  too 
rapid  descent.  Even  the  abuses  of  their  institutions  like  the  excrescent 
humors  that  sometimes  appear  in  the  human  frame,  have  been  suffered 
to  remain  so  long  and  to  become  so  deeply  imbedded  that  to  sever  them 
too  rudely  at  once  would  be  fatal  to  the  life  of  the  body  politic.  There 
are  many  arteries  first  to  be  bound  up,  and  even  then  the  knife  should 
be  in  a  skilful  hand.  The  population  in  their  little  island  is  too  numer- 
ous for  such  institutions  as  ours.  There  must  be  a  strong  hand  some- 
where to  keep  down  such  immense  brute  force,  at  least  in  the  present 
state  of  public  morals.  It  is  true,  that  much  provision  is  made  for  the 
education  of  the  people,  and  the  national  schools  which  one  sees  in 
every  few  miles  of  travel,  are  among  England's  proudest  glories.  But 
I  am  not  one  of  those  who  believe  in  the  omnipotence  of  education, 
unless  it  be  accompanied  by  the  influences  of  the  Spirit  of  God.  IMan 
can  never  know  his  true  interest  unless  he  sees  it  in  the  light  of  another 
world.  When  the  people  of  England  become  generally  and  heartily 
religious,  then,  and  not  till  then,  will  they  be  prepared  for  a  popular 
government;  and  nothing  but  the  same  blessed  leaven  can  keep  our 
beloved  country  from  the  loss  of  her  liberties,  when  our  wide  terri- 
tories shall  become  crowded  like  theirs.  There  is  indeed,  much 
religion  now  in  England.  I  very  much  question  whether  pure  and 
undefiled  religion  does  not  flourish  much  more  there  than  in  the  United 

140  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

States.     Certainly  our  worshipping  assemblies  might  take  many  a  lesson 
in  decorum  and  solemnity  from  those  which  assemble  in  the  churches 
of   the  establishment  and  the  chapels  of  the  dissenter.     More  holy, 
zealous  and  self-denied  men  I  have  never  seen  than  many  in  both  bodies 
of  Christians,  and,   although  too  many  of  the  clergy  (which  name  is 
there  confined  to  the  ministry  of  the    church  of  England)  may  have  no 
true  sense  of  the  gospel  they  profess  to  teach,  yet,  the  frequent  reading 
of  their  admirable   and  instructive  liturgy,  with  the  many  scriptural 
lessons  appointed  in  the  service,  cannot  fail  to  have  a  very  salutary 
influence  upon  the  popular  mind.     Certainly  the  evangelical  clergy  and 
the  dissenting  ministry  are  far  more  sound  in  the  faith,  and  preach  the 
gospel  with  greater  simplicity,  than  the  large  majority  of  preachers 
with  us.    In  only  one  or  two  instances  have  I  heard  doctrinal  views 
given  which  would  have  been  considered  unsound  in  our  own  upright 
church.      My  -sympathies   were   of   course    more   naturally  with  the 
dissenters  in  most  respects,  but  I  cannot  avoid  trembling  at  the  dangers 
which  menace   the   establishment.     An  established  religion  with  us, 
would  indeed  be  a  great  evil,  but  the  refusal  to  establish  a  church  by 
the  state  is  very  diiferent  from  putting  one  down.     If  the  reform  of 
the  church,  as  it  is  called,  could  be  placed  in  the  hands  of  good  men, 
the  case  would  be  different,  but  the  party  opposed  to  the  establishment 
is  composed  of  atheistical  Jacobins,  led  on  by  such  spirits  as  Hunt  and 
Eoebuck,  the  vulgar  Catholics  headed  by  the  strong-minded  but  in- 
famous O'Connell,  many  who  care  for  none  of  these  things,  and  a  few 
candid,  conscientious  men.     Must  we  not  dread  the  result,  when  such 
unhallowed  hands  are  put  forth  to  touch  the  ark  of  the  living  God  ? 
It  is  sad,  however,  to  see  the  effect  which  the  intermingling  of  religious 
with  political  questions  has  had  upon  many  good  men  on  both  sides. 
Once  the  pious  dissenter  considered  his  political  inferiority  as  a  cross 
which  it  became  him  meekly  to  bear,  and  he  worked  the  better  for  his 
poverty  of  spirit ;  while  the  truly  good  churchman  forgot  his  refusal  to 
conform  in  admiration  of  his  Catholic  spirit;  but  now  the  dissenter 
buckles   on    his   armor  and    contends   with  carnal  weapons   for    his 
right,  and  the  churchman  like  a  strong  man  bars  and  bolts  his  house  to 
keep  it  safe. 

The  Episcopalian,  heaven  knows,  has  temptations  to  bigotry  enough 
at  all  times,  but  in  England  just  now,  he  is  fusing,  and  the  dissenter 


not  much  better.  Alas  !  that  brother  should  thus  contend  \7ith  brother. 
If  I  were  a  dissenting  minister  in  England,  I  would  simply  preach  the 
gospel,  and  pray  over  it,  leaving  all  the  rest  in  the  hands  of  God;  but 
perhaps  I  would  do  just  as  they  do,  for  we  never  know  how  we  will  act 
until  we  are  tried.  A  good  illustration  of  my  last  remark,  by  the  way, 
is  found  in  the  present  state  of  public  opinion  in  England  with  refer- 
ence to  the  United  States.  The  religious  people  especially  are  actually 
mad  upon  the  subject  of  American  slavery,  so  much  so  that  an  Ameri- 
can Christian  can  scarcely  appear  in  a  public  meeting  without  being 
insulted.  They  will  listen  to  no  explanations,  allow  no  diflSculties, 
and,  almost  universally  ignorant  of  the  nature  of  our  government, 
compound  in  one  common  condemnation,  the  North  and  the  South,  the 
slave-holder,  and  the  non  slave-holder.  It  was  rather  hard  for  me  to 
keep  my  temper  at  times,  though  I  carefully  avoided  placing  myself  in 
positions  which  exposed  me  to  attacks.  The  testimony  of  Thompson 
is  taken  for  truth  against  all  that  the  well-informed  and  the  candid 
among  themselves  can  say,  much  more  against  our  asseverations.  On 
one  occasion  I  did  so  far  forget  myself  as  to  give  one  gentleman  a 
rather  sharp  retort.  I  had  been  baited  by  a  number  of  them  at  a  dinner- 
table  one  day,  when  this  person,  more  rude  than  the  rest,  bade  me  '  mark 
what  England  had  done,  how  she  had  freed  all  her  slaves  ;  and  let  Am- 
erica go  and  do  likewise,  or  be  content  to  bear  the  scorn  of  the  world. ' 
I  replied,  *  Sir,  when  I  read  the  news  of  the  bill  for  the  Emancipation 
of  the  AVest  Indies,  being  passed,  I  said  to  myself,  England  is  a  gloii- 
ous  nation,  she  well  deserves  her  rank  among  the  nations  of  the  earth. 
She  has  done  one  of  the  most  glorious  acts  the  world  has  ever  witnessed ; 
but  sir,'  I  added,  '  if  the  same  spirit  existed  then  which  seems  to  excite 
you,  I  should  doubt  the  genuineness  of  the  charity  after  all.'  'How  so 
sir?'  rejoined  my  hero.  'Because  sir,  St.  Pciul  tells  us  Charity 
vaunteth  not  herself,  is  not  puffed  up,  and,  you  must  allow  me  to  add, 
doth  not  behave  herself  unseemly. '  I  was  then  let  alone.  I  must  how- 
ever do  justice  in  saying  that  the  church  people  are  far  more  considerate 
and  less  prejudiced  in  this  respect  than  the  ministry,  and  that  there  are 
not  a  few  among  the  latter  class  who  are  willing  to  allow  the  difficulties 
of  our  situation.  Indeed,  the  liberal  party  in  England  is  sadly  raisnom- 
ered.  Its  chief  strength  is  derived  from  the  wealtliy  manufacturers  who 
are  jealous  of  the  landed  aristocracy,  and  a  few  of  the  very  high  and 

142  MEMOIR    OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

wealthy  nobility,  who  are  jealous  of  the  crown,  and  willing  to  provide 
habitations  for  themselves  in  the  event  of  an  overthrow.  The  truly 
liberal  men  are  very,  very  rare.  Do  not  think  I  have  been  biased  by 
my  associations  in  England.  I  have  been  far  more  among  the  Whigs  than 
Tories.  The  morals  of  England  generally,  will  not  bear  comparison 
with  those  of  our  own  country.  The  multitude  of  drunkards  is  far  great- 
er, and  the  unblushing  audacity  -with  which  the  innumerable  tippling 
shops,  or  rather  palaces,  invite  their  customers,  has  no  parallel  with  us. 
I  have  had  the  curiosity  to  count  the  murders  which  are  described  in 
their  papers,  and  am  persuaded  that  they  exceed  in  frequency  those  of 
the  whole  United  States  together.  I  was  sorry  also  to  learn  that  profli- 
gacy prevailed,  not  only  in  the  manufacturing  towns,  and  larger  cities, 
but  also  among  the  agricultural  classes,  who  are  generally  so  pure. 
This  is  to  be  attributed  to  the  extreme  closeness  of  the  population,  which 
induces   poverty,  and  consequent   recklessness   of  character. 

But  this  is  an  unpleasant  topic  to  dwell  on,  let  me  turn  to  one  of  a 
more  gratifying  character.  We  are  told  that  John  Bull  is  a  rough, 
repulsive  nature,  cold  and  distant  to  strangers.  I  saw  nothing  of  this. 
On  the  contrary,  I  mingled  with  all  classes  from  the  peer  to  the  peasant, 
and  everywhere  met  with  the  utmost  politeness,  and  no  rudeness  or 
even  carelessness  of  civility.  There  is,  indeed,  a  certain  reserve 
maintained  in  public  places  which  I  wish  were  oftener  found  at  home, 
but  it  soon  wears  off  when  there  is  no  necessity  for  it.  The  ready  and 
willing  attention  of  the  servants  is  most  agreeable  to  one  accustomed 
to  the  republican  indifference,  which  sits  upon  the  brow  of  those  we 
pay  to  do  our  bidding;  while  an  English  gentleman  and  lady  are,  just 
what  gentlemen  and  ladies  are  all  over  the  world.  Everywhere  you 
meet  with  intelligent  people,  who  seem  to  think  their  kindness  a  matter 
of  course  without  making  such  a  fuss  about  it  as  we  often  see  at  home. 
The  scenery  in  England  is  very  sweet  and  quiet,  but  not  various. 
With  the  exception  of  some  fine  mountain  views  in  Wales,  and  among 
the  lakes  in  Cumberland,  I  was  rather  tired  of  the  monotony  until  I 
reached  wild,  rugged,  yet  ever  fascinating,  Scotland.  The  parks  of 
many  gentlemen  are  exceedingly  fine.  The  oaks  and  cedars,  centuries 
old,  lift  their  arching  branches  or  cast  their  profound  shade  over  a  turf 
shorn  and  levelled  to  a  velvet  softness,  while  the  dappled  deer  are  seen 
in  the  intervals  gazing  upon  their  beautiful  shadows  in  the  placid  waters. 


But  there  was  too  much  of  the  hand  of  man  visible  for  my  taste.  It 
is  true,  nature  has  been  imitated,  but  man's  nature  is  not  God's  nature, 
and  it  is  not  impossible  to  forget  tliat  every  shadow  had  been  calculated 
and  that  the  stream  had  been  dammed  up  to  form  the  lake,  while  the 
melancholy  eye  of  the  fawn  looked  upon  you  with  a  familiar  confidence 
which  told  he  was  not  a  free  denizen  of  the  forest.  Were  nothing  else 
wanting  there  is  no  sunshine  in  England  to  reveal  the  full  beauty  of 
the  earth.  Their  clearest  sky  is  a  sort  of  cafe  au  lait  color,  and  one 
can  never  go  in  search  of  the  picturesque  without  an  umbrella  and 
over-shoes  ;  and  as  for  a  sunrise  or  a  sunset  they  are  matters  of  faith 
not  sight.  I  would  not  give  one  glance  of  our  deep  blue  heavens  when 
the  fleecy  clouds  are  chasing  over  them,  one  glorious  summer  evening's 
western  gorgeousness,  or  the  streamy  radiance  of  our  Indian  summer's 
morn,  for  the  Duke  of  Northumberland's  park,  with  all  its  ha-has  and 
educated  groves.  I  say  educated,  for  every  branch  has  been  taught  like 
a  *  young  idea  how  to  shoot.' 
But  Scotland, 

*■  Land  of  the  mountain  and  the  flood, 
Land  of  green  heath  and  shaggy  wood.' 

My  pen  will  certainly  run  away  with  me  if  I  do  not  stop  at  once,  and 
this  awful  elongation  of  an  epistle  be  like  poor  Paddy's  rope,  the  other 
end  of  which  was  cut  off.  I  will  not  say  Scotland  is  more  beautiful 
than  America,  but  certainly  we  have  nothing  like  her  scenery.  But 
dear  Scotland,  thou  shalt  have  another  day  to  do  thee  honor.  Au  revoir. 
But  I  must  stop  again  to  say,  I  wish  I  could  send  your  sister  and  your- 
self some  sprigs  of  her  heather  to  twine  in  your  hair.  It  is  worthy  of 
the  honor.  As  for  the  beauty  of  England's  daughters,  my  fair  country- 
Avomen  have  no  cause  for  jealousy. 

I  saw  more  loveliness  at  Gen.  Cass's  soiree  last  night,  than  I  have  seen 
since  I  left  home,  and  there  were  none  but  Americans  in  the  room. 
The  English  women  are  too  —  too  —  (I  want  a  word)  too  strong,  too 
healthy,  if  there  be  such  a  thing.  Their  cheeks  are  so  red  that  they 
are  almost  blue.  And  such  feet,  they  certainly  gave  the  name  to  a  foot 
measure.  My  conscience  gives  me,  however,  a  twinge  here,  and  bids 
me  remember  some  delightful  friends  we  had  the  pleasure  of  seeing, 
but  there  are  exceptions,  you  know,  to  every  general  rule.  I  am  told 
that  among  the  nobility  there  are  ladies  of  that  high-bred  beauty,  which 

144  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

makes  one  almost  hold  his  breath,  it  is  so  pure,  so  unearthly  in  its  deli- 
cacy ;  and  I  suppose  it  is  so,  but  I  could  match  all  the  noble  beauty  I 
saw,  from  among  the  cotton-spinners  of  Lowell,  and  the  onion-growers 
of  "Weathersfield,  to  say  nothing  of  the  Katrinas  and  Ariantzes, 
along  our  noble  Hudson.  I  have  heard,  too,  occasional  laughter  at  the 
extremfe  delicacy  (squeamishness  they  call  it)  and  shrinking  sensitive- 
ness of  observation,  which  characterize  our  American  women.  They 
say  it  argues  mauvaise  Jionte,  but  God  grant  that  they  may  ever  keep  it. 
It  is  their  liighest  merit,  their  most  attractive  charm.  It  is  more  prec- 
ious than  the  richest  veil  that  ever  Mechlin  weaver  wove.  You  remem- 
ber the  tempter  in  Milton's  Comus  (how  exquisitely  delightful  that  poem 
is)  says  : 

'  Beauty  was  made  for  sports,  as  these, 

For  feasts  and  courts  and  high  festivities.' 
But  when  woman's  feminineness  is  gone,  she  is  not  what  God  made 
her,  and  not  what  God  would  have  her  to  be.  Her  throne  is  in  the 
heart,  her  world  her  home.  A  proof  of  this  is  seen  in  the  fact  that,  as 
no  where  else  are  women  so  retiring  as  with  us,  so,  no  where  else  have 
they  so  much  real  deference  shown  them. 

It  excited  wonder  in  England,  when  I  once  gave  up  my  seat  in  a 
stage-coach  to  a  lady,  a  thing  an  American  ploughboy  would  have  done. 
Everywhere  in  England  and  in  France,  you  see  females  at  Avork  in  the 
fields  doing  the  work  of  men.  Here  they  make  part  of  the  pageant  of 
an  hour,  but  at  home  we  honor  them  as  our  mothers,  our  wives,  our 
sisters  and  our  friends.  In  England  they  hold  a  higher  rank  than 
among  these  trifling  Frenchmen ;  but  in  America  they  give  to  life  its 
best  and  purest  charms.  I  beg  pardon  for  this  unmerciful  visitation. 
Your  criticism  I  do  not  fear,  for  harsh  you  cannot  be,  and  if  I  need  for- 
giveness, I  submit  readily  my  case  to  so  gentle  a  judge.  You  have,  no 
doubt,  met  travelled  Americans  who  alFect  a  disrelish  for  their  own 
country.  Never  did  I  feel  so  grateful  to  God  for  casting  my  lot  in  that 
dear  land,  as  now.  I  must  quote  a  verse  from  one  of  my  own  songs  to 
express  my  heart. 

'  My  country,  oh,  my  country  ! 
My  heart  still  sighs  for  thee ; 
And  many  are  the  longing  thoughts 

I  send  across  the  sea. 
My  weary  feet  have  wandered  far. 
And  far  they  yet  may  roam ; 

PARIS.  145 

But  oh  !  whatever  land  I  tread, 
My  heart  is  with  my  home.' 

Please  present  my  most  respectful  compliments  to  all  your  estimable 
circle,  and  allow  me  to  be 

Very  truly  your  friend, 

Geo.  W.  Betiiune." 
G.    W.   B.  TO  Mrs.  B.  "  Paris,  Dec.  13,  1836. 

To  describe  Paris  is  impossible.  It  is  a  magnificent  city,  full  of 
beautiful  buildings  and  scenes  of  gaiety ;  yet  there  are  fiir  fewer  exter- 
nal evidences  of  depravity  than  in  London,  or  any  English  city  I  have 
seen.  Luxurious  and  abandoned  as  a  vast  majority  of  the  Parisians 
are,  they  have  the  good  sense  to  hide  their  dissipation,  or,  at  least,  to 
veil  it  with  graceful  drapery.  The  pleasantest  circle  I  have  found  was 
at  Mr.  Baird's  on  Saturday  evening  last,  when  I  met  some  thirty  or 
forty  Americans,  and  a  few  English,  in  an  old-fasliioned  religious  meeting. 
It  was  very  sweet  and  pleasant  to  sing  the  Lord's  song  in  a  strange  land. 

The  gallery  of  the  Louvre  contains  paintings  enough  to  occupy  me 
for  a  year.  They  are,  besides,  altogether  of  a  higher  character  than  any 
of  those  I  have  seen  except  a  very  few  in  England.  I  would  soon 
become  very  fond  of  such  matters.  There  is  much  fine  music  to  be 
heard,  and  it  is  quite  delightful  to  hear  as  one  passes  along  the  streets 
at  night,  the  sudden  burst  of  harmony  from  a  band  playing  some  famil- 
iar tune. 

They  tell  a  good  story  here,  by  the  way,  of  Dr. He  meant  to  ask 

his  landlady  for  a  chest  of  drawers  to  j)ut  in  his  room,  and  he  asked  for  a 
poitrine  de  calegon.  It  is  said  too,  that  he  insisted  upon  maldng  a 
speech  before  the  French  Bible  Society,  in  French.  The  Parisians 
listened  to  him  very  gravely,  but,  &c." 

G.   W.   B.   TO   Mrs.   J.   B.  "  Dec.  28. 

I  have  been  endeavoring  to  improve  my  time  as  well  as  I  could,  and 
certainly  tliink  that  upon  many  subjects  I  have  acquired  much  infor- 
mation. My  French  teacher  compliments  me  upon  the  readiness  with 
which  I  improve  in  my  knowledge  of  the  language,  and  I  can  under- 
stand sufficiently  well,  to  profit  by  tlie  lectures  in  the  different  halls.  I 
certainly  have  learned  more  in  Paris  than  in  London,  and  the  society  of 
well-informed  persons  is  more  easily  reached.  I  was  almost  ashamed 
of  the  manner  in  which  my  time  slipt  from  me  in  London ;  it  seemed  as  if 

146  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

I  were  continually  employed  in  going  from  one  street  to  another,  the 
people  are  so  wide  apart. 

Here,  one  can  meet  all  they  know  in  a  very  short  time.  There  is 
mucli  religious  society  here,  at  least  much  to  what  you  would  expect, 
and  I  enjoy  myself  as  well  as  I  can  away  from  all  I  love.  Mary  writes 
me  she  is  better,  and  begs  me  not  to  return  to  her  until  I  have  gone 
further,  and,  but  for  this,  I  believe  I  would  have  been  on  my  way  back 
to  her  before.  I  am  haunted  too  'with  the  dread  lest  you  will  blame  rae 
for  staying  in  Europe,  and  spending  so  much  money,  though  it  is  what  I 
have  not  known  how  to  avoid.  I  shall  be  miserable  until  I  hear  from  you. 
I  do  hope  the  colonel  will  act  a  liberal  part.  He  ought.  But  I  must  not 
write  on  this  subject.  I  can  not  bear  it.  Dearest  mother,  forgive  your 
son  if  lie  has  done  wrong. 

We  have  been  near  seeing  another  revolution  in  Paris.  Day  before 
yesterdaj^  Louis  Pliilippe  was  going  in  his  carriage  to  open  the  Chamber, 
when  he  was  fired  at  in  his  carriage  by  an  assassin.  The  ball  passed 
close  to  his  head  and  between  the  Duke  of  Nemours  and  liis  other  son. 
I  went  to  see  the  parade,  and  heard  the  shot,  though  I  did  not  see  the 
affair.  I  have  been  told  since  that  it  was  well  for  us  that  the  King  was 
not  killed,  as  the  National  Guards  would  have  been  so  exasperated  as  to 
have  charged  at  once  upon  the  popukice.  Poor  Louis  Philippe  I  His 
crown  is  one  of  thorns.  Yet  God  seems  to  watch  over  him  in  a  remark- 
able manner.  I  believe  he  most  conscientiously  intends  the  good  of  his 
subjects,  and  certainly  in  private  life  is  scrupulously  moral.  They  say 
that  the  attachment  of  the  Royal  family  to  each  other,  is  very  great, 
and  would  be  unusual  any  where,  and  in  any  rank  in  life,  but  especially 
in  France  and  a  reigning  liouse.  The  poor  Queen  looked  very,  very 
pale  and  anxious,  as  she  passed  where  vre  stood  a  few  moments  before 
the  shot  was  fired.     How  near  her  fears  were  to  being  realized  ! 

I  can  not  say  I  like  the  French  people.  They  are  too  flippant,  too 
external,  if  I  may  use  the  expression,  while  the  English  are  too  heavy 
and  reserved.  I  have  found  none  like  the  warm-hearted,  ready-handed 
Scotch.  They  are  more  like  the  Americans  in  character,  and  we,  I  think, 
contain  many  of  the  excellences  of  the  French  and  English,  with  faults 
peculiarly  our  own. 

I  had  hoped  for  a  run  into  Italy,  but  the  weather  is  so  bad,  the  roads 
so  bad,  the  cholera  so  bad,  and  the  quarantines  worse  than  all,  that  I 
believe  I  must  give  it  up,  but  it  is  hard  to  do  so. 


Mr.  Betbune  was  now  made  one  of  a  deputation  of  Americans,  who 
were  to  congratulate  King  Louis  Philippe  on  his  fortunate  escape  from 
the  attempts  upon  his  life.  So  he  went  to  Court.  "  I  had  the  honor," 
writes  the  traveller,  "  of  a  particular  bow  from  his  Majesty,  which  I 
attempted  to  return  in  my  best  style."  On  the  same  occasion,  the 
English  people  had  a  deputation,  and  it  was  announced  that  while  those 
of  our  country  held  the  paper,  containing  resolutions  of  sympathy,  the 
other  party  should  express  in  words  the  sentiments  of  the  house.  Mr. 
Betlmne  related  the  marked  difference  in  the  conduct  of  the  two  dele- 
gations. The  English  appeared  abashed  in  the  presence  of  royalty,  and 
spoke  to  each  other  in  suppressed  whispers,  while  the  Americans  stood 
up  erect  and  self-possessed,  talking  together  as  if  quite  at  their  ease. 
"  I  have  been  to  Court  and  exercised  the  cat's  privilege  of  looking  at  a 
king;  he  behaved  very  well,  and  so  did  we." 

"  Paris  now  looks  like  home,  the  streets  are  covered  with  snow,  and 
the  people  are  enjoying  themselves  in  the  holidays.  I  have  seen  some 
sleighs  in  the  streets,  but  they  are  the  oddest  looking  things  you  can 
imagine.  One  of  them  is  a  reindeer  stuffed  upon  runners,  with  a  hole 
through  the  back,  near  the  tail,  in  which  a  lady  thrusts  herself,  and  the 
gentleman,  a  Russian,  sits  behind  and  drives,  and  there  is  a  gilded  shell 
with  a  gilt  cock  perched  upon  the  front.  The  horses  have  plumes  of 
ostrich  feathers  upon  their  heads,  and  are  covered  with  little  bells. 
Did  I  tell  you  I  was  at  General  Cass's  soiree  last  Monday  evening  ? 
It  was  quite  an  American  party,  and  I  have  not  seen  so  much  beauty 
since  I  left  home." 

The  cholera  having  abated,  and  quarantine  barriers  being 

removed,  our  minister  proceeded  on  his  southern  journey. 

We  hear  from  him  next  at 

**  Genoa,  Jan.  18,  1837. 

What  Hannibal  and    Buonaparte   did    I  have   done,    'crossed    the 

Alps.'    Whatever  difficulties   those   gentlemen  found  in  their  way,  I 

found  none.     It  was,  however,  extremely  cold.     Indeed  I  have  not  been 

really  comfortable  since  I  have  been  in  Italy.     The  scenery  of  the  part 

of  the  Alps  (those  of  Savoy)  through  which  we  came,  is  very  wild,  and 

sometimes  extremely  beautiful,  but  not  so  very  different  from  mountain 

scenery  at  home,  as  I  had  imagined.     Undoubtedly  the  season  deprived 

it  of  many  of  its  charms,  but  yet  it  must   have  given  others ;  the  fan- 

148  MEMOIR   OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

tastic  forms  into  which  the  droppings  of  the  snow  from  the  cliffs  were 
frozen,  and  the  congealed  waterfalls  glittering  like  diamonds  in  the  sun, 
were  exquisitely  beautiful.  No  art  could  carA^e,  and  no  fancy  devise 
tracery  so  inimitably  beautiful.  "Winter  scenery  in  a  rugged  country 
has  always  had  great  charms  for  me.  I  crossed  by  Mount  Cenis,  and  it 
is  wonderful  how  art  has  triumphed  over  nature  in  constructing  a  road 
over  a  heap  (for  no  word  seems  to  describe  it  so  well)  of  mountains, 
nearly  six  thousand  feet  high,  and  so  good  that  in  summer  the  most  timid 
woman  might  cross  it  without  fear.  I  had  for  my  companion  a  very 
pleasant  man,  a  descendant  of  the  Albigenses  of  wliom  you  have  read. 
He  was  quite  intelligent,  speaking  every  language  of  Europe,  and  de- 
lighted to  give  all  the  information,  and  shew  me  all  the  kindness  in  his 
power.  To  liim  I  was  indebted,  not  only  for  much  pleasure,  but  instruc- 
tion in  the  liistory  of  those  mountains  where  St.  Paul  once  preached, 
and  the  religion  of  Christ  was  kept  pure  and  undefiled  during  all  the 
reign  of  superstition  in  the  dark  ages.  Descending  on  this  side  of  the 
mountain,  we  were  soon  aware  we  had  entered  Italy. 

The  chestnut  and  elm  began  to  abound,  the  sides  of  the  precipitous 
liills  were  covered  to  the  top  with  vineyards,  and  the  graceful  palace 
took  the  place  of  the  Savoyard's  Cottage.  Sunday  morning,  very  early, 
we  reached  Turin,  the  capital  of  Piedmont,  the  most  beautiful  city  ex- 
cepting Edinburgh,  I  have  seen.  Nothing  can  be  finer  than  its  two 
principal  squares.  The  streets,  too,  are  as  straight  and  rectangular  as 
those  of  Philadelphia,  and,  what  is  still  more  remarkable,  as  clean.  I 
did  wish  for  spring,  however,  to  set  off  the  beauty  of  the  scenery  through 
which  we  passed.  Imagine  if  you  can,  a  wide,  high  road,  lined  on  each 
side  by  fine  old  chestnuts,  winding  along  the  foot  of  hills  covered  to  the 
top  Avitli  palaces,  in  the  midst  of  vineyards,  the  vines  growing  on  elm 
trees  planted  for  the  purpose,  while  below  the  road  is  the  river  Po, 
wide,  i)lacid,  and  majestic,  wandering  through  the  richest  valley, 
bounded  in  the  distance  by  the  snow-peaked  Alps,  and  you  have  the 
road  from  Turin.  Oh  !  it  is  beautiful  as  a  poet's  dream  ;  then  the  cos- 
tume of  the  peasant  women,  a  white  veil  thrown  back  from  the  head 
and  flowing  to  the  feet,  is  so  graceful ;  while  the  very  oxen,  white  and 
dove-colored,  are  beautiful  features  in  the  landscape.  Now  I.  look  out 
from  my  chamber  window  on  the  Mediterranean.  Genoa  is  situated  on 
the  shore  of  a  harbor  exactly  like  a  horse-shoe,  and  is  very  rich  and 
beautiful,  but  being  built  on  the  side  of  a  hill,  the  houses  are  very  liigh? 

PISA    AXD    FLORENCE.  149 

There  are  only  one  hundred  and  forty  steps  to  my  room,  and  in  the  pal- 
ace of  the  Palacini,  whore  I  was  to-day,  the  dining-room  is  up  two  pair 
of  stairs.  Here  the  costume  of  the  women  is  very  fanciful ;  they  wear 
long  veils  of  chintz,  the  ground  of  which  is  white  and  flowered.  They 
look  very  pretty  in  them. 

Pisa  is  remarkable  for  the  beauty  of  some  of  its  edifices.     The  prin- 
cipal is  the  leaning  tower  or  campanile.     It  is  about  two  hundred  feet 
high,  and  circular,  consisting  of  a  number  (eight)  of  stories  with  more  than 
two  hundred  columns,  but  the  greatest  curiosity  about  it  is,  that  in  conse- 
quence, as  is  supposed,  of  an  earthquake,  it  has  been  thrown  from  the 
perpendicular,  and  now  leans  over  more  than  thirteen  feet,  so  that  you 
would  suppose  it  would  fall  every  moment,  yet  it  has  stood  in  tliis  way 
for  centuries.     Near  the  town  is  a  fine  Cathedral,  adorned  Avith  magnifi- 
cent brass  gates,  and  columns,  and  pictures.     Behind  the  cathedral  again 
is  the  Baptistry,  which  is  a  beautiful   octagon  temple,  entirely  of  white 
marble.     They  have  there,  too,  what  is  termed  the  '  Campo  Santo,'  or 
holy  field,  which  is  a  burial  ground,  the   centre  of  which  is  filled  in  with 
earth  brought  from  Jerusalem,  and  the  sides  enclosed  by  fine  Gothic 
ranges  of  windows.     It  contains  many  beautiful  monuments,  much  an- 
tique sculpture,  and  old  inscriptions.     We  left  Pisa,  however,  the  next 
day,  and  came  through  the  beautiful  vale  of  the  Arno  to  Florence.     We 
were  very  much  struck  with   the   beauty  of  the   peasantry ;  the   roads 
were  lined  with  villages,  and  crowds  of  the  peasants  in  their  picturesque 
dresses  were  seen  along.     "We  did  not  see  a  young  woman  with   a  bad 
face ;  all  were  handsome  ;  the  ladies  say  the  men  are  so,  too,  but  I  did 
not  remark  them.     Eeport  says,  the  peasantry  are  as  virtuous  and  in- 
dustrious as  they  are  beautiful.     Oh  !  it  was  a  sweet  ride,  the  vineyards 
on  each  side,  the  winding  Arno,  rolling  its  deep  waves,  tinged  by  the 
hues  of  an  Italian  sunset,  or  silvered  over  by  a  full,  clear  moon,  which 
rose  upon  us  long  before  we  entered  Florence.     Here  there  is  much  to 
interest  the  stranger,  more  than  any  part  of  Italy,  except  Rome  and 
Venice.     It  is  now  the  season  of  the  Carnival,  and  the  Florentines  are 
very  gay.     The  public  promenade  along  the  bank  of  the  beautiful  Arno 
is  filled  every  afternoon  with  crowds  in  their  holiday  dresses,  many  with 
the  most  ludicrous  and  grotesque  masks  and  costumes,  amusing  them- 
selves and  the  rest.     The  gentry  go  and  drive  on  the  Corso,  which  re- 
sembles    the  Pasea  at  Havana,   where  they  ride  backwards    and  for- 
wards, throwing  sugar-plums  at  each  other.     Here  is  the  celebrated 

150  MEMOIR   OF    GEO.    W.    BETIIUXE,    D.  D. 

riorontine  gallery  which  contains  the  Venus  de  Medici,  and  many 
rare  sculptures  and  paintings.  I  spent  four  liours  in  the  gallery  to-day, 
and  shall  spend  as  many  to-morrow." 

G.  W.  B.  TO  Mrs.  B.  "  Rome,  Feb.  2,  1837. 

^Modern  Eome  is  a  sad  commentary  on  the  evanescent  nature  of 
human  glory.  It  contains,  it  is  true,  many  splendid  buildings,  and  one 
unmatched  in  the  world,  St.  Peter's ;  hut  there  is  the  appearance  of 
wretched,  vicious  poverty  in  the  common  people,  and  the  streets  are 
narrow  and  filthy.  This  is  properly  the  week  of  the  Carnival,  when 
Eome  should,  according  to  custom,  be  very  gay.  You  know  that  Car- 
nival means,  literally,  *  Farewell  to  meats  ! '  and  precedes  Lent ;  it  is, 
in  truth,  feasting  as  much  as  they  can  before  they  are  obliged  to  fast. 
But  I  understand  the  Pope  is  fearful  of  a  revolt,  and  has  forbidden 
masks,  which  these  childish  Italians  consider  so  necessary  to  their 
amusement,  that  they  think  they  can  have  no  fun  without  them.  They 
have,  however,  some  of  their  amusements,  among  which  are  ridiculous 
races.  The  principal  street  in  the  city  is  termed  the  Corso,  or  Race 
Course,  and  the  middle  of  it  is  covered  with  tan.  At  the  appointed  time 
the  horses  are  brought  out  behind  a  rope,  which  is  stretched  across  the 
street,  and  are  without  riders,  but  with  a  sort  of  saddle  with  flaps,  in 
which  are  iron  spikes.  At  the  sound  of  a  cannon  the  rope  before  them 
is  dropt,  and  away  go  the  poor  beasts,  spurred  on  the  more,  the  faster 
they  make  haste,  until  at  the  other  end  they  run  against  a  large  clotli 
hung  across  the  streets,  and  are  stopped.  Nothing  can  be  more  ridicu- 
lous, yet,  to  see  this,  the  Romans  go  in  crowds ;  the  Corso  itself  is  full, 
and  it  is  with  the  utmost  difficulty  the  troops  can  preserve  a  lane  wide 
enough  for  the  horses.  The  glory  of  modern  Rome,  however,  is  her 
St.  Peter's.  This  immense  church  I  cannot  describe  to  you  :  to  say  that 
it  is  more  than  GOO  feet  long,  200  feet  broad,  and  150  feet  high,  or 
rather,  450  feet  to  the  top  of  the  cross,  would  be  to  convey  but  a  poor 
notion  of  its  grandeur.  Every  part  of  this  immense  structure  is  fin- 
ished in  the  most  costly  manner ;  mosaic  pictures  of  enormous  size, 
colossal  statues  and  graceful  tombs  and  altars,  are  on  every  side,  in  the 
greatest  profusion.  Not  less  than  fifty  millions  of  dollars  had  been 
spent  upon  this  church  in  a.d.  1700  ;  to  say  nothing  of  what  has  been 
added  since.    Yet  I  cannot  say  after  all,  that  I  admire  St.  Peter's ;  it  is 

HOME.  151 

impossible  uct  to  be  astonished  at  its  vast  size,  but  it  is  not  to  my  mind 
truly  grand.  The  gilt  ceiling,  the  tinsel,  the  profusion  of  ornament 
are  not  to  mj*  taste.  I  had  much  more  pleasure  in  Westminster  Abbey, 
and  some  other  Gothic  buildings  in  England,  and  the  Madeleine  of 
Paris,  which  is  pure  Grecian,  than  in  St.  Peter's.  It  was,  too,  a  strong 
rebuke  of  tlie  pride  wliieh  created  such  a  temple,  to  see,  as  one  continu- 
ally does,  a  poor  wretclicd  man  or  woman  huddling  in  the  corner  near 
the  altar,  which  was  most  attractive  to  them  for  reasons  they  only  could 
know.  Surely  the  religion  v/hich  was  given  for  the  poor  in  spirit,  and 
teaches  humility  of  heart,  needs  no  such  gorgeous  temple  as  St.  Peter's. 
The  rooms  of  the  celebrated  Vatican  contain  a  profusion  of  fine  sculp- 
ture, hut  a  small  portion  of  which  I  have  yet  seen.  The  Apollo  Belvi- 
dcre,  next  to  the  Venus  de  Medici,  is  probably  the  most  beautiful  statue 
in  the  world,  such  dignity  !  such  grace !  such  manly  beauty !  " 

G.  W.  B.  TO  Mrs.  J.  B.  "  Rome,  Feb.  8,  1837. 

There  is  a  gay  scene  from  my  windows.  They  look  out  upon  the 
terraces  and  esplanade  of  the  handsomest  gardens  of  Rome,  which  are 
now  filled  with  gaily-dressed  and  merry  people.  It  is  the  last  day  of  the 
carnival,  Mardi  Gras,  and  the  Romans,  expecting  to  be  half  starved  for 
the  next  forty  days,  are  determined  to  feast  to-day.  This  Italy  is  indeed 
a  beautiful  land,  like  one  vast  pleasure-ground,  with  a  continual  summer. 
Every  one  may  here  find  his  taste  gratified.  Here  are  amusements  for 
the  butterflies,  who  think  of  notliing  else ;  because  the  Italian  lives  for 
amusement.  Here  are  classical  associations  for  the  scholar,  every  hill, 
and  lake,  and  river,  speaking  to  him  of  times  gone  by,  and  here  the  lover 
of  the  arts,  painting,  sculpture  and  music,  finds  them  in  a  profusion  not 
elsewhere  known.  Yet  it  is  a  melancholy  land.  I  cannot  enjoy  myself 
over  the  grave  of  buried  millions  i  or  when  I  see  the  indolent  Italians 
lounging  over  the  ground  the  masters  of  the  world  once  trod,  and  yield- 
ing to  the  rule  of  effeminate  and  slipshod  priests.  The  superstition  of  the 
people  is  awful.  The  other  day  I  saw  a  dozen  of  them  climbing  upon  their 
knees  the  Seala  Santa,  or  stairs,  said  to  have  been  those  of  Pilate's 
house  wliich  the  Saviour  went  up;  this  was  to  gain  a  thousand  days' 
indulgence,  that  is,  to  buy  off  a  thousand  years  of  purgatory.  At  another 
place  crowds  of  vrell- dressed  people  and  beggars  of  the  m.ost  revolting 
description  were  kissing,  one  after  another,  a  cross  wliich  gained  them  a 
hundred  days.    The  Pope  is  continually  issuing  orders  about  ceremonies 

152  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

and  processions,  and  the  whole  aim  seems  to  be,  to  make  a  puppet- 
show  of  religion. 

One  could  spend  a  month,  yes,  a  year,  in  Rome,  if  his  heart  were 
not  elsewhere,  as  mine  is.  I  was  yesterday  at  the  Vatican  Museum, 
where  the  galleries,  taken  altogether,  are  said  to  be  nearly  two  miles 
long,  and  almost  entirely  filled  with  antique  sculpture.  The  Apollo 
Belvidere  —  the  celebrated  group  of  Laocoon  and  his  sons  —  the 
Antinous  and  the  Jupiter  are  all  there.  Then  tlie  Capitol,  likewise, 
contains  an  immense  number  of  statues  and  bas-reliefs ;  while  more 
than  a  half-a-dozen  palaces  in  Rome  have  picture  galleries,  filled  with 
gems  from  the  best  masters.  In  the  Doria  palace,  the  other  day,  we 
went  through  seven  immense  rooms  filled  with  valuable  paintings, 
before  we  reached  the  gallery,  which  comprises  three  sides  of  a  very 
large  square.  The  beauty  of  some  of  these  works  is  indescribable,  and 
the  effect  of  some  of  them  remains  on  the  mind  long,  long  after  you 
have  ceased  to  look  at  them.  I  remember  now,  as  distinctly  as  if  I  had 
the  picture  before  me,  Sassoferrato's  picture  of  the  Virgin  in  grief,  and 
Raphael's  Madonna,  which  I  saw  at  Florence.  I  think  I  never  can 
forget  those  pictures,  or  one  head  of  Beatrice  Cenci,  by  Guido.  I  saw  a 
grand  exhibition  of  the  Pope  and  Cardinals  at  the  Sistine  Chapel  the 
other  day,  which  I  cannot  describe  to  you  by  letter,  but  will  amuse  you 
with  when  we  meet.  It  was  last  Wednesday ;  and  the  occasion  of  their 
meeting  was  for  the  Cardinals  to  have  ashes  sprinkled  upon  them 
which  the  Pope  had  blessed.  The  Pope  is  a  venerable-looking  old  man, 
and  it  was  sad  to  see  him  engaged  in  such  mummery.  Yet  we  ought 
to  judge  lightly,  for  none  of  us  know  how  strong  the  prejudices  of 
education  may  be.  The  environs  of  Rome  are  covered  with  ruins  which 
speak  of  buried  centuries." 




The  Philadelphia  church  was  approaching  completion; 
kind  friends  had  been  busy  in  preparing  a  pleasant  place  of 
residence ;  time  and  money  were  both  flying ;  everything 
called  for  a  speedy  return  home.  During  his  absence,  Mrs. 
Bethune  had  been  transported  by  water  from  Liverpool  to 
London  in  order  to  consult  Sir  Astley  Cooper  and  Sir  James 
Clarke.  At  this  place  her  husband  joined  her,  to  make  the 
discovery  that  even  the  most  learned  doctors  may  be  found 
napping.  The  accomodations  not  being  extensive,  when  the 
two  physicians  retired  for  consultation,  Mr.  Bethune  was 
in  a  position  to  overhear  their  remarks.  They  had  a  pleas- 
ant interview;  one  relating  how  he  on  a  certain  occasion 
came  very  near  to  fighting  a  duel.  The  difiiculties  and 
danger  of  the  position  occupied  some  time  to  describe,  and 
they  were  about  to  separate  when  one  recalled  the  patient. 
"  But  what  shall  we  do  with  Bethune's  wife  ? "  "  Oh,  give 
her  the  old  pill,"  was  the  ready  reply.  It  is  superfluous  to 
add  that  this  most  expensive  medical  attendance  quickly 

It  was  not  until  the  7th  of  May,  that  the  party  sailed  from 
Liverpool  to  the  United  States,  and,  in  due  time,  reached 
Philadelphia.  The  church  edifice,  a  very  neat  building  in 
the  Grecian  style,  was  completed  soon  after  his  arrival,  and 
solemnly  dedicated  to  God  by  Mr.  Bethune,  who  preached 

154  AIEMOm    OF    GEO.    W.    BETIIUNE,    D.  D. 

a  sermon  from  Psalms  xxvii.,  4.  Gratefully  he  had  written 
from  Rome  :  "  What  f^n  excellent  soul  is  Morris  and  the 
rest  of  them.  How  I  will  work  for  them  when  I  get  back." 
There  was  plenty  to  do  and  he  plunged  into  it  with  all  his 
might.  His  popularity  increased  ;  and  his  being  talked  of 
for  other  pulpits  made  his  position  towards  his  own  con- 
gregation more  commanding  and  easy. 

In  the  month  of  July,  he  pronounced  his  discourse  on 
"  Genius"  before  the  literary  societies  of  Union  College,  and 
its  opening  sentence,  ^^  Forsan  et  liaec  olim  meminisse  jic- 
vahW''  was  a  bit  of  true  prophecy.  This  effort  of  his  at 
making  a  public  address  of  a  character  not  purely  or  even 
chiefly  religious,  was  the  first  of  a  long  train  of  brilliant 
lectures,  which  brought  renown  and  even  money  to  the 
popular  minister,  but  whose  chief  use  was,  as  he  himself 
intended,  to  induce  many  to  come  and  hear  him  preach  the 
Gospel  who  would  otherwise  have  stayed  away  altogether. 

G.  W.  B.  to  Mrs.  J.  B.  "  October  20,  1837- 

I  fear  you  will  scarcely  believe  me  when  I  say  that  I  have  been  so 
driven,  as  not  to  have  five  minutes'  time  to  write,  for  a  fortnight  past, 
any  thing  but  sermons.  I  have  a  pile  of  letters  lying  unanswered  before 
me,  that  is  distressing  to  look  at.  I  fear  I  have  undertaken  too  much, 
for,  besides  my  Sunday  sermons,  I  am  carrying  on  in  the  week  a  course 
of  lectures  on  the  Ephesians,  which  I  write  out,  and  which  give  me  more 
trouble  than  any  other  service.  The  new  members  of  the  congregation 
are  to  be  found  out  and  visited,  and  adjusted  in  their  proper  places ; 
besides  which,  I  have  to  be  at  the  end  of  everything,  or  it  is  ill  done  if 
done  at  all.  You  blame  me  for  studying  at  night,  but  if  it  were  not  for 
those  few  still,  uninterrupted  hours  of  the  twenty-four,  I  could  not 
mnintain  my  position  at  all.  I  am  now  placed  in  a  dangerous  situation, 
for  I  enjoy  a  great  degree  of  general  popularity.  Double  the  number 
are  turned  away  from  my  church  doors  of  those  who  get  in  at  the 
evening  service.  I  know  I  do  not  deserve  this  from  any  talents  I  have, 
and  therefore  I  must  strive  to  preserve  such  an  opportunity  of  useful- 


cess  by  severe  study,  that  study  being  direeted  as  far  as  I  can  do  it,  to 
making  the  gospel  simple  and  plain.  My  health  has  not  suffered  from 
it,  but,  on  the  contrary,  the  trouble  and  anxiety  from  which  I  find  a 
refuge  in  study  wears,  or  would  wear  me  down  much  more.  I  do  not 
wish  to  murmur.  The  lot  which  God  assigns  me  is  best  for  me,  and  it 
is  not  often  I  show  my  trouble  to  any  one,  for  I  endeavor  for  the  sake 
of  others  to  keep  a  cheerful  face ;  but  I  have  my  afflictions  and  some- 
times I  think  they  are  far  from  being  light." 

To  THE  Rev.  Mr.  M— .  "  Jan.  4,  1838. 

I  am  rather  in  difficulties  myself  (though  this  is  enire  nous),  my 
church  to  outside  appearance  goes  on  prosperously,  and  there  are  few 
preachers  in  town,  who  seem  to  have  the  popularity  I  have  just  now,  yet 
as  an  unfortunate  author  said  to  me  the  other  day,  '  It  is  very  strange, 
that  which  every  body  praises,  nobody  buys.'  My  books,  I  mean  my 
pews,  go  off  very  slowly.     The  hard  times  solve  the  riddle  however." 

G.  W.  B.  TO  IMrs.  J.  B.  '-March  10,  1838. 

During  tlie  whole  of  last  week,  I  intended  each  day  to  write, 
but  was  really  too  unwell.  I  had  to  deliver  a  lecture  before  the  Athen- 
ian Institute  on  Tuesday  evening,  and  caught  cold  coming  home.  The 
Athenian  Institute  lectures  correspond  somewhat  with  those  of  the  Stuy- 
vesant  Institute  of  New  York.  They  have  been  overwhelmingly  popu- 
lar. It  was  computed  that,  after  tickets  for  seventeen  hundred  persons 
were  issued,  they  could  have  sold  seven  hundred  more.  My  subject  was 
*  Socrates,'  his  life  and  opinions.  1  only  used  it,  however,  for  an  indi- 
rect argument  in  favor  of  the  necessity  of  revelation,  in  which,  if  I  may 
credit  the  opinions  of  my  friends.  Dr.  Ludlow,  and  Mr.  Biddle,  I  was 
quite  successful.  The  lecture  will  probably  be  published  in  the  Knick- 
erbocker Magazine,  when  I  may  have  your  judgment  upon  it. 

I  have  reason  to  believe  that  ray  standing  in  Philadelphia  is  becoming 
higlier  and  higher  every  day.  People  who  should  have  known  me  as 
my  fother's  son,  when  I  first  carae  to  town,  now  seek  to  know  me,  and 
I  have  a  decided  and  acknowledged  position  among  the  scholars  of  the 
city.  All  this  I  only  care  for  so  far  as  it  increases  my  influence  as  a 
minister,  and  may  enable  me  to  do  good.  Fame  and  mere  popularity 
are,  of  all  human  pursuits,  the  most  vaporous ;  but  to  promote,  as  an  in- 

156  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETIIUNE,    D.  D. 

strument  in  God's  hands,  the  kingdom  of  his  blessed  Son,  and  point  wan- 
dering souls  back  to  their  Father's  house,  is  indeed  an  honour.  —  I  am 
sorry  to  say  my  congregation  increases  slowly.  The  hard  times  are 
against  us." 

From  this  period  our  minister  became  Doctor  of  Divinity. 
He  received  this  degree  causa  honoris  from  the  University 
of  Pennsylvania  in  1838,  and  for  ten  years,  from  1839  to 
1849,  was  an  active  Trustee  of  that  Institution. 

Mrs.  J.  B.  to  G.  W.  B.  ''January  5,  1839. 

Since  you  left  I  have  often  read  over  the  sweet  lines  you  addressed 
to  me>  and  never  without  tears.  —  I  have  been  asked  for  them  for  the 
Intelligencer.  I  don't  know  whether  it  would  be  well  to  publish  them  ; 
I  fear  your  growing  popularity  will  excite  envy.  Your  sermon  of  the 
evening  has  been  much  talked  of.  " 

G.  V/.  B.  TO  Mrs.  J.  B.  "  January  14,  1839. 

I  am  happy  that  you  were  pleased  with  the  verses  I  addressed  to  you. 
If  they  have  any  merit  it  must  arise  from  their  being 
'  The  flow  of  feeling, 
Not  of  art. ' 

As  to  their  being  published,  so  far  from  having  any  objection,  I  wish 
it,  and  but  waited  to  hear  how  you  regarded  them.  I  should  like  to  pay 
openly  a  tribute  of  regard  and  grateful  affection  to  my  mother.  But  the 
Christian  Intelligencer  is  not  the  place  for  them.  In  the  first  place  they 
print  abominably,  making  the  most  absurd  errors,  and  then  the  lines 
would  be  buried  there.  No,  if  George  Duffield  will  take  the  trouble  to 
copy  them  distinctly  into  a  clear  hand,  and  carry  them,  or  send  them 
with  my  compliments  to  the  Knickerbocker,  I  should  like  it  better.  My 
first  verses  to  Mary  were  published  there,  and  were  copied  all  over  from 

My  hands  are  full.  It  is,  however,  my  weekly  seronons  which  press 
me  so  hard.  It  is  a  sad  thing  to  have  a  little  popularity  as  a  preacher 
in  a  regular  pulpit.  The  drain  upon  one  is  excessive,  and  there  is  no 
let  up  as  the  Yankees  say." 

DEATH   OF   THE    PATROON.  157 

Some  of  our  readers  may  have  seen  a  beautiful  engraving 
which  apjDeared  about  this  time  representing  Washington  in 
the  attitude  of  prayer.  He  appears  to  have  retired  from 
the  camp  which  is  seen  at  a  little  distance,  and  to  have 
knelt  down  under  the  covert  of  a  thicket  to  ask  counsel  and 
guidance  of  God  in  his  sore  perplexity.  Perchance  it  was 
at  Valley  Forge  where  his  fortunes  and  his  hopes  touched 
the  lowest  point,  perhaps  it  was  before  Yorktown  where  his 
toils  and  his  faith  were  crowned  with  success.  The  en- 
graving was  made  in  keeping  with  the  representations  of  a 
Quaker  who  was  eye-witness  of  the  scene.  This  was  used 
to  illustrate  the  Cliristian  Keepsake,  and  Mr.  Bethune  yielded 
to  the  request  of  Mr.  L.  G.  Clarke  to  accompany  the  en- 
graving with  a  contribution.  In  these  minor  e5brts  his  pen 
had  a  facility  which  of  itself  would  have  secured  feme  and 

In  the  latter  days  of  January,  1839,  occurred  the  death  of 
the  Patroon  of  Albany,  the  excellent  and  venerable  Stephen 
Van  Rensselaer.  That  this  was  a  cause  of  heart-felt  sorrow 
to  Dr.  Bethume  we  need  not  say  for  he  has  left  a  record  of 
his  feelings  on  the  occasion. 

He  writes  to  Mrs.  Van  Rensselaer  on  the  3d  of  February. 

"  My  Dear  Madam  : 

If  I  have  not  been  among  the  first  with  words  of  sympathy,  it  was  be- 
cause I  dared  not  intrude  at  once  upon  the  sacredness  of  your  sorrow. 
But  I  can  forbear  no  longer.  The  many  kindnesses  of  him  who  has  en- 
tered into  his  rest,  the  precious  memory  of  many  days  spent  within  the 
home  hallowed  by  his  meek  and  gentle  affection,  and  the  frequent  privi- 
lege of  kneeling  with  you  and  yours  to  implore  the  grace  of  God's  pres- 
ence in  his  hour  of  aflaiction,  have  given  my  heart  the  right  to  bleed  with 

Yet  what  shall  I  say?  I  need  not  speak  of  consolation.  God  has 
already  given  it.     You  have  marked  the  perfect  and  beheld  the  upright, 

158  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETIIUNE,    D.  D. 

tliat  the  end  of  that  man  is  peace.  The  patient  siifferings  over  which 
you  have  watched  so  long  are  ended.  His  pains  have  ended.  He  is 
asleep  in  Jesus.  The  venerable  head,  hoary  in  righteousness,  is  now 
crowned  with  glory,  the  fight  has  been  victorious,  the  race  won,  the 
faith  kept.  O  what  gain  has  death  been  to  him.  '  If  ye  loved  me,'  said 
Jesus,  '  ye  would  rejoice  because  I  said  I  go  unto  my  Father.  '  And 
he  whom  we  love  and  mourn  is  with  Jesus  and  the  Father  now. 

As  I  close  this  letter  I  am  preparing  to  go  to  my  pulpit  that  I  may 
speak  to  my  people  of  him  whose  hands  laid  the  corner-stone  of  our  lit- 
tle church.  The  text  that  I  have  chosen  is  Jeremiah  ix.,  23-24.  But 
how  will  I  dare  to  speak  of  all  his  worth  to  those  who  knew  him  not  as 
I  have  known  him.  Yet  to  God  must  be  given  the  praise  of  an  example 
the  most  excellent  in  meekness,  in  quietness,  nobleness,  and  kindness 
we  have  ever  witnessed  or  read  of  in  modern  days." 

The  sermon  took  True  Glory  for  its  theme  and  appeared 
in  pamphlet  form.  It  is  also  in  the  volume  of  "  Bethune's 
Orations ;"  but  this  is  the  summing  up  of  the  whole,  it  is 
not  tiresome  to  read  and  will  be  its  own  apology : 

"  Glorying  in  the  Lord  is  not  incompatible  with  the  possession  of 
wisdom.,  power,  or  riches. 

The  highest  glory  of  man,  in  this  life,  is  to  be  the  instrument  of  God's 
*  loving  kindness,'  judgment  and  righteousness ;  and  none  can  be  said  '  to 
know  him'  aright,  or  '  understand '  the  beauty  of  his  character,  wlio 
strive  not  to  imitate  him  in  the  exercise  of  those  admirable  attributes. 

If,  then,  any  degree  of  wisdom  be  ours,  it  is  our  high  privilege  to  use 
it  in  the  advancement  of  his  glory,  and  the  best  good  of  our  fellow  men  ; 
and  the  more  wisdom  we  possess,  the  greater  is  our  faculty  for  that  bless- 
ed end. 

If  we  have  any  degree  of  p)ou'er,  or  influence  in  society,  (and  none  of 
us  is  without  some)  it  is  our  high  privilege  to  use  that  influence  for  the 
vindication  of  the  Redeemer's  name,  and  the  guidance  of  our  fellow 
men  in  the  way  to  glory ;  and  the  greater  our  influence,  tiie  more  effi- 
cient our  example  and  zeal  may  be. 

If  we  have  any  degree  of  riches,  it  is  our  privilege,  by  a  heavenly  al- 
chemy, to  turn  the  dross  that  perisheth,  into  eternal  and  incorruptible 


treasures,  which  shall  fill  the  treasury  of  God  with  the  priceless  jewels 
of  ransomed  souls ;  and  the  greater  our  riches,  the  greater  means  we 
have  for  doing  good  in  Christ's  most  holy  name. 

Certainly,  earth  hath  no  nobler  spectacle  (and  it  is  one  angels  leave 
heaven  to  contemplate)  than  that  of  a  good  man,  preserving,  amidst 
the  temptations  of  wisdom,  and  power,  and  riches,  his  humble  trust  in 
God  his  Saviour,  as  his  highest  glory,  and  his  delight  in  serving  his  fel- 
low men,  as  his  next  chiefest  good.  His  is  a  wisdom  the  most  ignorant 
must  venerate ;  a  power  the  most  malicious  must  approve ;  and  a  wealth, 
which  envy  itself  would  hardly  dare  to  steal. 

This  wisdom,  and  power,  and  riches,  may  be  attained  by  us  all.  For, 
though  our  learning  may  be  poor,  our  influence  narrow,  and  our  means 
small,  he  '  that  glorieth  in  knowing  and  serving  the  Lord,'  hath  done 
his  duty,  when  he  hath  done,  through  Divine  grace,  what  he  could. 

It  was  a  magnificent  tribute  of  respect  and  honor  to  one 
of  the  best  of  men.  "  These  things  did  Araunah  as  a  king 
give  unto  the  king."  Dr.  Bethune  occasionally  reposes 
himself  from  graver  writings  with  a  bit  of  facetioiisness,  and 
then  bis  pen  is  apt  to  run  away  with  him.  "  Tell  sister 
Bell "  he  scribbles  to  his  mother,  "  that  I  owe  her  many 
thanks  for  her  kind  present,  my  understanding  as  well  as  my 
heart  is  clothed  with  gratitude;  and  my  memory  must  become 
slippery  indeed  if  I  am  ever  worsted  in  an  endeavor  to  recall 
her  deeds  of  love,  which  have  my  warmest  approval  though 
she  thinks  they  were  but  so  so,  sew  sew  indeed  they  must 
have  been.  By  the  way  the  shoemaker 'who  put  them 
together,  before  he  sent  them  home,  jDut  them  in  his  window 
before  which  I  saw  quite  a  crowd  of  lovers  of  the  fine  arts 
flattening  their  noses  in  gaping  admiration." 

Two  other  well  known  literary  j^erformances  came  from 
his  pen  during  this  year, — the  discourse  on  "  Leisure,  its  Uses 
and  Abuses, "  delivered  9th  March  before  the  New  York 
Mercantile  Library  Association,  and  the  "  Age  of  Pericles," 

160  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

read  before  the  Athenian  Institute  of  Philadelphia  in  the 
same  year.  These  performances  established  a  fime  which 
future  efforts  maintained. 

A  funny  story  is  told  of  the  grievous  mistake  of  one  of 
Dr.  Bethune's  old  parishioners  concerning  the  aim  of  the 
"Age  of  Pericles."  When  the  lecture  was  to  be  repeated  in 
Boston,  he  met  liis  formar  pastor  and  said  "  Vf  ell,  doctor, 
I  have  bought  a  ticket  and  am  coming  to  hear  you  to-night. 
When  I  told  my  wife  about  it,  she  asked,  *  But  who  is  this 
Perikels  ? '  "  The  good  man  pronounced  the  last  syllable 
as  in  "barnacles."  "  The  fact  was  that  I  never  had  heard  oi 
the  man,  but  I  said,  '  if  you  are  such  a  fool  as  not  to  know 
that,  it  is  high  time  for  you  to  begin  to  study.'  But  now 
doctor  do  tell  me,  what  is  the  reason  that  you  are  going  to 
give  a  whole  lecture  about  how^  long  the  old  fellow  lived?" 

"  Whilst  his  reputation  was  thus  culminating  in  Philadel- 
phia," writes  the  accomplished  Dr.  Dunglison,  in  his  Obitu- 
ary Notice  for  the  American  Philosophical  Society,  "he  vras 
energetically  affording  his  powerful  aid  to  every  scheme  for 
the  promotion  and  diffusion  of  general  literature  and  science? 
and  for  the  good  of  his  fellow  men.  Early  and  prominent 
among  these  was  the  'Athenian  Institute;'  the  object  of 
wdiich  W'?s  to  establish  a  course  of  lectures,  to  be  delivered 
gratuitously  by  literary  gentlemen  of  Philadelphia,  and 
which,  for  a  time,  w^as  eminently  successful.  The  first  course 
was  given  in  the  winter  of  1838,  and  the  last  in  that  of  1842. 
Large  and  intelligent  audiences  assembled  together  to  listen 
to  the  diversified  discourses,  of  which  none  were  more  popu- 
lar than  those  of  Dr.  Bethune. 

In  the  different  reunions  of  the  respectable  members  of 
the  Board  of  Directors  of  the  Institute,  he  was  placed  in 
intimate   intercourse  with  the   first  literary  and   scientific 


gentlemen  of  the  city,  by  whom  his  sterling  qualities  were 
at  once  appreciated,  and  his  claims  to  be  regarded  as  a  true 
lover  of  wisdom  cheerfully  conceded." 

In  April,  1839,  a  distinction  was  granted  him,  which  he 
estimated  as  one  of  the  highest  to  be  found  in  our  countrj^ 
—  "Among  the  honors  conferred  upon  me  hitely,"  he 
writes  to  Mrs.  J.  B.,  "h  a  unanimous  (very  unusual) 
election  to  be  a  Member  of  the  American  Philosophical 
Society.  Think  of  my  being  a  philosopher.''  Of  this 
Institution  Dr.  Dunglison  furnishes  the  following  sketch. 
"  This  venerable  society  which  is  so  well  known  at  home 
and  abroad,  and  which  reckons  amongst  its  members  many 
of  the  scientists  of  all  nations,  has  been  considered  to  owe 
its  origin  to  a  secret  debating  society  called  '  the  Junto ' 
formed  by  Franklin  in  lT2t,  which  was  limited  to  a  small 
number  of  members,  restricted  in  its  objects  and  local  in  its 
character.  This  appears  to  have  been  kept  up  actively  for 
a  time,  but  on  the  increase  of  the  Country  it  seemed  to  be 
necessary  to  have  a  society  whose  aims  should  be  greater, 
and  be  more  markedly  a  scientific  body  ;  and  accordingly 
Franklin  in  1743,  issued  a  circular  entitled  '  A  proposal  for 
promoting  useful  knowledge  among  the  British  Plantations 
in  America  '  ;  and  this  was  the  real  origin  of  '  The  American 
Philosophical  Society/  It  appears,  however,  that  in  the 
year  1750,  a  new  society  was  formed,  also  called  'the 
Junto '  and  essentially  resembling  in  organization  the 
ancient  Junto  founded  in  1727  of  which  indeed  it  was 
probably  the  sanctioned  successor  and  this  new  Junto 
became  amalgamated  with  the  society  founded  in  1743,  but 
not  until  the  close  of  the  year  1768,  the  united  society 
assuming  the  name,  as  at  present,  of  '  The  xlmerican  Philo- 
sophical Society,  '  held  at  Philadelphia  for  promoting 

162  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

useful  knowledge,  and  on  the  second  of  January,  1Y69,  held 
its  first  meeting  and  its  first  election.  The  society  has 
from  time  to  time  published  valuable  volumes  of  its 
'  Transactions,'  which  are  issued  regularly  and  dis- 
tributed to  its  members  and  to  the  various  scientific 
institutions  of  all  countries  ;  from  which  it  receives  in  re- 
turn, as  well  as  from  distinguished  physicists  everywhere, 
the  published  accounts  of  their  important  labors." 

"  It  was,"  says  Dr.  Dunglison,  "  at  one  of  the  meetings  of 
the  Board  of  Directors  of  the  Athenian  Institute  that  I  first 
saw  Dr.  Bethune,  and  I  well  remember  the  favorable  im- 
pression he  made  on  rae,  as  he  did  on  all.  We  generally 
walked  home  together  with  Dr.  Patterson,  Judge  Kane  and 
Professor  Dallas  Bache,  and  often  with  our  friend  Mr. 
Benjamin  W.  Richards,  taking  our  wives  by  surprise ; 
who,  at  times,  were  wholly  unprepared  to  entertain  us  as 
they  would  have  wished.  And  Dr.  Bethune  often  mentioned 
the  equanimity  and  hospitality  of  my  own  excellent  wife 
when  there  was  nothing  but  boiled  eggs  to  offer  us  for 
supper,  and  referred  with  enthusiasm  to  its  being  one  of  the 
most  agreeable  reunions  he  had  experienced.  This  was 
before  the  four  gentlemen  first  mentioned  had  resolved 
themselves  with  me  into  the  Club,  if  it  may  be  so  called, 
which  Dr.  Bethune  suggested  we  should  call  "  The  Five." 
In  this  club  we  had  no  fixed  evenings  for  meeting.  It 
depended  so  much  upon  our  meeting  together  at  theAmerican 
Philosophical  Society,  or  elsewhere.  Occasionally  a  stran- 
ger was  admitted  ;  but  usually  we  were  alone.  In  my 
memoir  I  state  how  much  the  pleasures  of  the  evening  were 
owing  to  Dr.  Bethune,  who  was  ever  cheerful  ;  full  of 
anecdote;  and  pointed,  but  judiciously  and  amiably  directed, 
repartee.  Never  did  I  hear  from  him  any  allusion  that 
could  be  the  cause  of  discomfort  to  the  most  sensitive. 


After  this  period  we  were  in  tbe  habit  of  seeing  each 
other  often.  His  mind  was  of  the  most  scrutinizing  kind, 
and  many  subjects  we  had  been  equally  engaged  in  inves- 
tigating. Pbih^logical  inquiries  he  was  very  partial  to  ; 
and  when  we  returned  from  listeiiing  to  public  or  private 
lectures,  there  was  always  something  we  had  heard  which 
famished  matter  for  inquiry,  and  which  we  had  to  decide  at  by  a  reference  to  some  work  in  my  library,  with  the 
richness  of  whicli  on  particular  subjects,  he  often  expressed 
his  gratification. 

During  his  visit  to  me  after  he  loft  Philadelpliia,  oc- 
casion often  occurred  for  such  reference ;  and  it  was  a 
source  of  real  pleasure  to  my  boys  to  aid  us  in  our  re 
searches.  His  advent  on  the  occasion  of  such  visits  was 
always  hailed  with  pleasure  by  my  excellent  wife,  of  whom, 
on  the  occasion  of  her  death,  he  speaks  in  one  of  his  letters 
(March  10,  1853)  with  so  much  of  feeling  and  truth,  as  well 
as  by  my  children." 

Having  requested  from  Dr.  Dunglison  some  account  of 
the  individuals  composing  this  remarkable  club,  he  replies, 
that  he  might  be  justiued,  in  sa3nng  with  the  great  dram- 
atist, of  each  of  them  : 

"  '  His  life  was  gentle,  and  the  elements 

So  mixed  in  him  that  nature  might  stand  up 
And  say  to  all  the  world,  *  This  was  a  man.'  " 

"These  are  designated  in  my  'Obituary  Notice'  as 
congenial  spirits  ;  and  it  is  difficult  to  imagine  five  that 
could  be  more  so.  Although  by  their  avocations  they  had 
all  been  more  or  less  restricted  in  their  reading  and  studies, 
all  might  be  regarded  as  conversant  with  those  general 
accomplishments  that  appertain  to  the  educated  gentleman. 
It  was  difficult,  therefore,  to  start  any  topic  of  inquiry 
and   discussion   in    which    they    could    not   generally    par- 

1G4  :memoir  of  geo.  w.  betiiune,  d.  d. 

ticipate,  and  on  which  liglit  could  not  be  thrown  by  one  or 
more  of  the  party  ;  and  hence  it  is,  that  their  meetings  were 
happily  designated  by  Judge  Kane  as  '  quiet,  joyous  and 

The  very  nature  of  their  avocations  necessarily  led 
to  their  arguments  being  diversified.  Dr.  Robert  M. 
Patterson,  at  the  time  Director  of  the  Mint  of  the 
United  States,  had  been,  for  many  years,  Professor  of 
Natural  Philosoph}^,  first  in  the  University  of  Pennsylvania, 
and,  afterwards,  in  the  University  of  Virginia.  Judge 
Kane  was  an  accomplished  member  of  the  bar,  and  after- 
wards Judge  of  the  District  Court  of  the  United  States 
Professor  Alexander  Dallas  Bache  was  Professor  of  Natural 
Philosophy  iu  the  University  of  Pennsylvania,  and  after- 
wards, and  at  the  time  of  his  death,  the  distinguished 
Superintendent  of  the  Coast  Survey  of  the  United  States. 
Dr.  Dunglison  was  Professor  of  the  Institute  of  Medicine 
in  the  Jefierson  Medical  College  of  Philadelphia  ;  and  every 
one  of  '  the  five '  had  held  offices  in  the  American  Philo- 
sophical Society,  —  Dr.  Patterson,  Judge  Kane,  and  Profes- 
sor Bache  as  President,  Dr.  Dunglison  as  Vice  President,  and 
Dr.  Bethune  as  a  Member  of  the  Board  of  officers.  All  are, 
alas  !  gone  except  Dr.  Dunglison.'' 

Between  these  gentlemen  there  was  not  only  a  pleasant 
intimacy,  bat  a  league  for  mutual  defence.  When,  after 
the  death  of  Judge  Kane,  his  reputation  was  assailed  on  po- 
litical grounds,  it  brought  forth  a  rebuke  from  Dr.  Bethune, 
perhaps  the  most  severe  he  ever  penned ;  and  when, 
at  a  later  period,  Professor  Bache  requested  that  the 
interests  of  Dr.  Kane,  the  Arctic  Explorer,  should  be  pro- 
moted, appealing  to  the  memory  of  "  the  Five,"  Dr.  Be- 
thune felt  the  obligation  and  responded  handsomely. 

He  made  good  his  right  to  these  elevated  distinctions. 

<<WISTER   PARTIES."  165 

by  repeated  and  higlily  applauded  lectures  at  the  Smith- 
sonian Institute,  urgently  called  for  by  Professor  Henry, 
who  was  at  the  head  of  that  foundation.  Connected  with 
the  American  Philosophical  Society,  there  was  a  very 
remarkable  social  entertainment  which  went  by  the  name 
of  ''  Wister  parties.''  The  name  originated  from  Dr. 
Wister,  who  was  President  of  the  Society,  and  these  meet- 
ings were  designed  to  discuss  scientific  and  philosophical 
subjects.  They  assembled  the  choice  spirits  of  Philadel- 
phia, and  distinguished  strangers,  in  the  most  charming 
reunions,  and  became  quite  renowned.  Drs.  Bethune  and 
Ludlow  were  constant  attendants,  and  it  was  evident 
that  their  dignified  presence  gave  a  higher  tone  to  the 

In  many  ways  this  year,  1839,  was  an  important  era  in 
Dr.  Bethune's  life.  In  the  spring  he  printed  his  first 
volume  entitled  "  The  Fruit  of  the  Spirit."  He  had  already 
published  addresses,  contributed  frequently  to  Magazines 
and  Annuals,  but  now  he  came  prominently  before  the 
public  as  author.  The  work  was  issued  at  the  request  of 
his  congregation.     Dr.  W.  J.  R.  Taylor  says, 

*'It  had  passed  through  three  separate  processes  of  deUvery  to  his 
people ;  first,  briefly  in  the  prayer-meeting,  at  another  time  in  more  en- 
larged form,  in  the  weekly  lecture,  subsequently,  in  a  course  of  Sab- 
bath sermons,  and  finally,  he  revised  it  for  the  press.  It  was  liis  favor- 
ite work,  has  passed  through  several  editions,  and  bids  fair  to  remain  a 
household  treasure  for  generations  to  come." 

In  the  autumn,  the  chapel  of  the  New  York  Orphan  Asy- 
lum, at  Bloomingdale,  was  to  be  opened.  This  magnificent 
charity  had  grown  up  under  the  care  of  his  mother,  and 
now  that  it  had  become  well  established  in  a  beautiful  loca- 
tion, the  son  was   requested  to  preach   the  sermon  for  the 

166  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

occasion.  lu  the  month  of  June  he  was  elected  President 
of  the  General  Synod  of  his  church,  and  in  this  capacity 
addressed  a  letter  to  the  Court  of  Holland,  in  reference  to 
the  Mission  work  in  the  Dutch  possessions,  and  held  fie- 
quent  correspondence  with  the  missionaries  in  the  East. 
Dr.  Hazlett  relates  his  first  introduction  to  Dr.  Bethune  : 

"  Capt.  Magruder  said,  *  Come  go  Avith  ms  to  hear  Dr.  Betliune  lec- 
ture to-night.'  It  was  very  stormy,  and  they  found  only  the  sexton  and 
an  old  woman  as  the  audience  ;  but  the  Dr.  rose,  gave  out  a  hymn,  and 
sung  it  liimself.  After  prayer,  and  eloquent  reading  of  scripture,  he  de- 
livered one  of  the  most  profound  lectures  I  have  ever  heard.  My  friend 
said,  '  "Why  did  you  not  keep  that  lecture  for  a  better  night.  It  was  too 
good  to  throw  away  upon  us.'  The  Dr.  replied,  '  It  is  my  duty  to 
preach  the  gospel  to  the  best  of  my  ability  under  all  circumstances,  and 
it  is  wrong  to  punish  those  who  come  in  stormy  weather,  for  the  delin- 
quency of  others.'  I  set  him  down  then  for  a  great  man,  and  concluded 
that  he  preached  the  truth  for  the  love  of  the  truth,  and  not  for  the  praise 
of  men." 

On  the  10th  of  April,  1841,  news  of  the  death  of  Presi- 
dent Harrison  reached  Philadelphia,  and  the  next  day  found 
our  ready  preacher  in  his  pulpit  prepared  to  improve  the 
solemn  occasion.  The  sermon,  which  was  a  tender  appeal 
to  his  countrymen,  and  thought  worthy  of  publication, 
must  have  been  prepared  in  the  course  of  a  few  hours. 
The  speaker  did  not  belong  to  the  same  party  as  the  Presi- 
dent, and  with  the  greater  freedom  pronounced  this  sharp 
rebuke  upon  political  bigotry  : 

*'  Standing,  in  our  imagination,  tliis  morning,  besicle  the  grave  of  our 
departed  patriot,  who,  even  of  those  that  struggled  most  against  Ms  rise, 
can  look  down  upon  liis  sleeping  dust,  nor  feel  a  pang  of  keen  reproach, 
if  ever  he  hath  done  his  honor  wrong,  or  breathed  a  hasty  word  that 
might  have  touched  liis  honest  heart,  or  cast  an  insult  upon  his  time- 
honored  name  ?  And  vile,  yes,  very  vile  is  he,  whose  resentments  the 
grave  cannot  still.    Whence  this  sacredness  which  death  throws  over 


the  memory  of  character  and  life  ?  Is  it  because  tlie  dead  are  defence- 
less, and  return  not  an  answer  again  ?  Is  it  because  God  hath  come  in 
between  us  and  our  fellow  creature,  and  vindicated  his  right  to  be  judge 
alone  ?  Is  it  because  in  the  humiliations  of  the  sepulchre,  we  see  the 
frailty  of  that  nature  we  share  with  the  departed,  our  own  aptness  to 
err,  and  how  liable  we  are  to  be  misjudged?  O,  my  friends,  why  should 
we  wait  for  death  to  teach  us  charity,  when  it  is  too  late  to  practice  it, 
and  repentance  hath  become  remorse  ?  Why  not  remember  that  the 
living  require  our  candor  and  forbearance  ?  Why  reserve  all  our  gen- 
tleness of  judgment  for  the  dead,  who  are  beyond  the  reach  of  our  abso- 
lution ?  They  were  once  as  the  living,  and  the  living  shall  soon  be  as 
they.  It  is,  indeed,  enough  to  bring  us  back  to  a  better  opinion  of  hu- 
man nature,  to  witness  such  a  spectacle  of  union  in  sorrow  and  in  honor 
for  our  departed  chief  among  those,  who,  a  little  while  since,  were  di- 
vided into  earnest  and  opposing  factions  ;  but  oh !  would  it  not  be  far 
more  ennobling,  to  see  the  living  pledging  themselves  to  the  living  over 
the  fresh  earth  of  his  grave,  that  henceforth,  though  they  may  honestly 
differ  in  their  doctrines  and  policy,  they  will  yet  believe  in  the  upright- 
ness of  each  otlier's  motives,  and  the  sincerity  of  each  other's  belief? 
How  hateful  does  censorious  bitterness,  and  sneering  suspicion  look,  in 
the  face  of  your  opponent  !  Yet  such  is  your  deformity  in  his  sight, 
when  you  revile  liis  principles  and  r.ail  against  his  friends.  When,  oh! 
when  shall  tliis  rancor,  this  cruel  persecution  for  opinion's  sake,  this 
damning  inquisition  after  false  motives,  this  fratricidal  rending  of  heart 
from  heart  because  our  mental  vision  is  not  the  same ;  this  exiling  of  the 
honorable  from  the  honorable,  because  they  have  not  the  same  sibila- 
tion  in  their  Shibboleth ;  this  waste  of  wealth,  of  mental  power  and  un- 
tiring zeal,  which  our  country,  and  our  whole  country  should  enjoy; 
when  shall  it  cease  ?  Must  it  be  perpetual  ?  I  know  that  the  words  of 
a  poor  preacher  are  weak  against  tliis  strong  and  vast-spreading  evil ; 
but  as  I  love  my  country,  and  God  knows  I  love  her  from  my  inmost 
heart,  and  never  more  than  in  this  hour  of  her  sorrow,  I  must  speak.  I 
cannot  believe  that  I  have  a  right  to  hate  and  despise  my  brother,  be- 
cause he  reads  another  book  than  my  own,  or  that  he  should  hate  and 
despise  me,  because  conviction  forces  me  to  cling  to  mine." 

Mrs.  J.  B.  to  G.  W.  B.  ''Aioril  30,  18*1. 

I   was  much  pleased  with  your    short    discourse  on    our  poor  old 

President.    I  was  afraid  you  would  not  acquit  yourself  so  well,  as  you 

168  MEMOIR   OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.    D. 

did  not  think  as  highly  of  him  as  some  did.  What  a  lesson  we  have 
had  as  a  nation.  I  did  not  tliink  I  had  as  mucli  American  feeling  in  me 
as  I  felt  on  reading  the  account  of  his  death ;  my  blood  all  tingled 
through  my  veins  and  I  found  relief  only  in  tears.  I  retired  as  soon  as 
I  could  and  fell  on  my  knees  and  prayed  to  God  to  sanctify  the  dispen- 
sation to  the  nation,  a  sinful,  Sabbath-breaking  and  otherwise  guilty 
nation,  though  exalted  to  Heaven  in  point  of  privileges." 

G.  W.  B.  TO  Mrs.  J.  B.  ''Maij  1. 

I  am  glad  you  liked  my  little  sermon.  Would  a  Harrison  man  have 
done  so  much  had  my  friend  "Van  Buren  died?  I  felt  as  an  American 
and  as  a  Christian  (I  trust)  and  forgot  party." 

And  now  we  have  to  carry  our  popular  minister  through 
many  months  of  gloom  and  depression.  His  continued 
speaking  and  the  failure  of  his  health  from  overwork  brought 
in  the  earlier  months  of  1841,  an  attack  of  ''bronchitis, 
laryngitis,  or  both,'^  as  his  letters  express  it.  He  was  per- 
emptorily forbidden  by  his  physician  to  preach  for  two 
months;  and  could  he  have  quietly  submitted  he  might  have 
bided  over  the  trouble  and  saved  himself  much  annoyance. 
His  congregation  paid  him  the  compliment  of  declaring  they 
could  not  do  without  him  ;  and  forced  him  to  obtain  a  writ- 
ten opinion  from  his  phj^sicians,  Bell,  Chapman  and  Hodge, 
that  a  sea  Yojage  was  absolutely  necessary  to  him,  before 
they  would  consent  to  his  absenting  himself.  This  paper 
convinced  them,  and  with  a  total  change  of  tone  the  Con- 
sistory voted  a  leave  of  absence  for  such  time  as  should  be 
necessary,  and  the  substantial  accommodation  of  two 
quarters'  salary  in  advance  was  superadded.     He  writes  in 

acknowledgement : 

''May  15,  1841. 

I  thank  the  gentlemen  of  that  meeting  for  their  kind  sympathy,  for  the 

leave  of  absence  granted  me,  and  their  recommendation  to  the  Board  of 

Trustees  that  two  quarters  of  my  salary   (for  which  I  have  no  just 

VISIT    TO    EUKOPE.  1G9 

claim)  be  advanced  to  me  in  the  present  exigency.  Every  added  proof 
of  kindness  from  the  people  of  my  charge,  deepens  my  affliction  in 
being  compelled  to  intermit  for  a  season  the  labors  in  which  I  have 
found  my  great  delight. 

I  sliall  pursue,  with  the  leave  of  Providence,  the  advice  of  tliose 
medical  gentlemen  whose  opinion  is  before  you ;  because  their  opinion 
in  a  matter  of  health,  would  naturally  be  preferred  by  a  sick  man,  to 
that  of  any  unprofessional  adviser;  because  past  experience  of  the 
effect  of  the  sea  on  my  constitution,  and  my  present  symptoms  confirm 
me  in  believing  their  advice  to  be  good ;  and  because  I  owe  it  to  my^i-elf, 
to  the  church,  and  to  God,  to  recover  and  preserve,  so  far  as  means 
may,  that  health  without  which  I  should  lose  my  usefulness. 

That  some  proofs,  that  I  have  not  acted  precipitately  in  this 
matter,  may  be  preserved,  permit  me  earnestly  to  request  that  the 
letter  of  Doctors  Bell,  Cliapman  a,nd  Ilodge  be  copied  on  the  minutes 
of  the  Consistory  and  the  Board  of  Trustees.  No  one,  wlio  may  read  it, 
will  have  a  right  to  blame,  but  will  think  that  it  was  not  unreasonable  to 
grant  me,  after  nearly  four  years'  hard  service  of  mind  and  body,  a 
furlough  for  a  few  months  when  rest  seemed  essential  to  my  recovery, 
and  that  rest,  in  the  opinion  of  those  who  ought  to  know  best,  would  be 
most  profitably  spent  on  shipboard." 

Accordingly  Dr.  Bethune  sailed  with  his  wife  on  the 
twenty-sixth  of  May,  and  arrived  at  Gibraltar  on  the  twenty- 
fourth  of  June.  On  tlic  nineteenth  of  July  the  travellers 
reached  Naples,  and  a  letter  is  at  once  sent  homeward. 

G.  ^y.  B.  to  Mrs.  J.  B.  "  Naples,  Juhj  19,  1841. 

Among  our  passengers  on  board  the  Oriental,  was  the  second  son  of 
Walter  Scott,  rather  a  nice  young  man,  going  out  as  secretary  to  the 
Persian  embassy.  We  made  a  little  acquaintance  together.  Malta,  you 
know,  has  been  quite  famous  as  the  place  where  St.  Paul  was  ship- 
wrecked, and  we  went  to  see  the  place  where  he  is  said  to  have  shaken 
the  viper  from  his  hand.  But  alas  for  our  antiquarian  enjoyment,  very 
good  arguments  are  given  to  show  that  the  apostle  never  was  at  Malta,* 
but  that  Melita  was,  and  is,  an  island  in  the  Adriatic." 

*  Better  arguments  to  show  that  he  was.  J3d. 

170  MEMOIR    OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

Naples  was  found  delightful,  Sorrento  charming,  every 
thing  rose-color,  and  we  may  imagine  that  our  classic  minister 
enjoyed  the  time  at  Pompeii  and  Vesuvius,  A  letter  received 
at  Florence,  from  E.  T.  Throop,  Esq.,  enclosed  money  and  a 
sort  of  apology  for  the  Rothschilds  of  Naples,  who  had 
hesitated  to  make  a  small  advance  ;  and  thus  helped  on  his 
way,  he  made  a  hasty  trip  down  the  Rhine  and  pausing 
but  little  in  London,  reached  home  before  the  beginning  of 
September.  His  trip  had  done  him  some  good,  but  not  as 
much  as  was  hoped.  But  still  "objectaminoiHsresistentice''  he 
chafed  at  the  enforced  quiet.  ''  It  is  impossible,''  he  ssljs,  ''to 
prevent  myself  from  anxiety,  but  I  pray  to  be  able  to  look  to 
Him  who  can  and  will  sustain  his  tried  but  trusting  children, 
I  try  to  keep  my  spirit  willing,  but  my  fiesh  is  weak.''  He 
was  forbidden  the  segar  by  the  inexorable  Bell,  and  the 
deprivation  was  great.  It  is  related  of  him  that  a  brother 
clergyman  with  whom  he  had  frequent  disputes  on  points 
of  doctrine,  came  into  his  study  one  morning  and  found  him 
enveloped  in  the  blue  and  fragrant  wreaths.  "  What, 
smoking?"  gasped  the  visitor,  uplifting  his  hands  in 
astonishment.  '*  Yes,"  said  the  doctor,  very  coolly,  "  I  am 
trying  to  preserve  my  orthodoxy," 

But  he  could  better  bear  the  loss  of  nicotine,  than  the 
secession  of  a  part  of  his  congregation,  which  came  with 
the  frightfully  hard  times. 

He  writes  to  Mrs.  J,  B.,  February  14,  1842. 

"  Every  thing  here  is  u^jside  down,  far  worse  than  in  New  York.  We 
have  no  money  at  all  that  we  can  rely  upon.  I  went  to  tea  one  night 
last  week  thinking  that  I  had  twenty-five  dollars  in  my  pocket,  and  when 
I  went  out  next  morning,  found  that  it  was  barely  worth  fifteen.  There 
never  was  such  diflOlculty  knoAvn  before. 

LETTERS.  171 

•  Eheu  fugaces 
labuntur  anni.' " 

He  writes  a  little  later  to  his  friend  Mr.  May : 

''Feb.  22,  1842. 

My  health,  about  which  you  so  kindly  express  anxiety,  is,  I  am  happy 
to  say,  improving.  My  A-oice  is  still  weak,  and  I  suppose  must  remain 
so  for  a  time  at  least.  I  continue  to  preach  but  once  a  day,  and  keep  in 
the  house  at  night.  I  am  sometimes  impatient  I  fear,  but  then  again  I 
remember  the  goodness  of  my  gracious  Master  to  me  in  times  past. 
How  much  permission  he  has  given  me  to  work  for  him,  how  long  my 
voice  has  been  granted  to  me  !  O  surely  then  I  ought  to  rejoice  that  I 
am  in  his  hands,  yes,  in  those  faithful  hands,,  the  hands  of  my  elder 
brother,  that  was  nailed  for  me  upon  the  cross.  That  dear  union  of 
Divine  strength  and  human  weakness,  (except  sin)  how  precious  is  the 
thought  of  it  to  our  hearts  when  we  feel  ourselves  weak  and  unworthy ! 
We  have  a  good  master  to  serve.  The  joy  of  serving  him  is  wages 

The  flare-up  in  my  congregation  has  subsided ;  instead  of  doing  me 
hurt,  they  have  done  me  much  good. 

My  heart  has  been  very  sad  from  the  loss  of  many  friends  by  death. 
Four  or  five  gentlemen  of  high  intellectual  character,  with  whom  I  was 
in  the  habit  of  frequently  associating,  have  been  buried  within  a  few 
weeks,  and  another  now  lies  very  low." 

G.  W.  B.  to  Mrs.  J.  Bethune,  March  14. 

"  Next  Friday  I  shall  be  thirty-seven.  I  feel  much  older.  I  have 
grown  ten  years  older  in  the  last  year.  It  is  impossible  for  me  to  rise 
above  the  weakness  of  mind  and  heart.  I  know  God  is  good,  that 
I  have  ten  thousand  blessings,  that  I  deserve  none,  yet  I  am  depressed, 
not  ungrateful,  I  hope,  nor  murmuring,  but  depressed." 

The  secession  or  flare-up  in  the  congregation  was  oc- 
casioned by  a  visit  to  San  Carlo  in  Naples,  the  largest  opera- 
house  in  Europe.     It  was  the  Queen's  birth-day,  and  there 

172  MEMOIR    OF    GEO.    W.    BETHU^E,    D.  D. 

was  to  be  a  grand  performance,  and  an  assembly  of  all  the 
nobility.  Mrs.  Bethune  had  a  great  curiosity  to  see  the 
show  and  hear  the  music ;  and  the  faithful  husband  would 
not  allow  his  invalid  wife  to  go  alone.  The  house  was 
brilliantly  lighted,  and  with  their  cultivated  musical  taste 
the  entertainment  must  have  been  delicious.  They  did 
not  go  for  the  opera,  but  rather  to  see  the  great  people,  and 
soon  retired.  The  chaise  d  porteur  in  which  Mrs.  Bethune 
went  was  likely  to  attract  attention,  and  the  news  was 
straightway  sent  across  the  Atlantic.  Upon  Dr.  Bethune's 
return  home,  and  after  his  first  sermon,  he  was  assailed 
on  this  account  by  a  prominent  lady  of  his  congregation. 
Endeavoring  to  explain  the  circumstances,  she  would  listen 
to  nothing,  but  said  "  That  is  enough,  take  my  name  off 
your  church  books."  Others  left  with  her,  and  the  affiiir 
brought  the  persecuted  minister  to  a  sick  bed. 

The  following  anecdote  has  been  carefully  shaped  and 
sent  to  us,  giving  another  instance  of  unkind  judgment  of 
this  most  godly  man. 

"On  a  former  visit  to  Europe,"  writes  our  friend  "the 
Rev.  Mr.  Kirk,  now  (1845)  Dr.  Kirk  of  Albany,  being  in 
Paris  at  the  same  time,  they  used  to  gratify  their  love  for 
music  together.  On  a  particular  Sunday  evening  they  had 
been  singing  some  songs  appropriate  to  the  day,  when  a 
third  party,  a  gentleman  of  many  admirable  qualities  yet 
having  no  deep  sympathy  with  religious  men,  but  still  ])ro- 
fessing  to  do  justly,  love  mercy,  and  walk  humbly  with  God 
(by  the  way  the  last  clause  is  rather  as  tlie  Hebrew  of 
Micah  has  it,  vi.,  8,  and  in  the  margin  Humhle  thyself  to 
walk  with  God),  was  occupying  apartments  in  the  same 
house.  Their  exercises  had  ceased,  and  Mr.  Bethune  was 
passing  to   his  own   room.     Our   young  friend,  who  now 


holds  p.  proiiiincrit  position  in  his  ]^rofossion,  M'as  then  on 
his  trnvels,  and  greatly  was  he  scandalized,  and  at  a  verv  low 
figure  did  he  estimate  the  genuineness  of  Bethnne's  earnest- 
ness when  he  overheard  him  on  that  Sunday  evening  in 
Paris,  after  those  sacred  harmonies,  humming  on  his  way 
the  melody  of  an  amusing  secular  song  very  common  then 
or  before  in  New  York. 

It  was  the  mind  relaxed  from  its  attentions  roaming  free 
in  its  associations,  the  playful  predominating,  all  unconscious 
to  its  possessor.  Quite  as  unconscious  doubtless  was  he  of 
the  tune  he  struck  upon  as  of  the  listener,  and  of  the 
impression  he  was  making,  or  that  the  incident  was  to  be 
remembered  and  told  again.  Ah !  if  people  had  known 
the  man  in  his  close  walk  with  God  how  would  he  have  been 
saved  frona  this  censorious  spirit. 

About  this  time  he  was  frequently  called  to  meet  Dr. 
Stephen  H.  Tyng  on  great  public  occasions.  They  were 
the  leading  ministers  of  the  city,  both  in  the  prime  of  life  ; 
sometimes  they  would  indulge  in  sallies  of  wit  directed 
against  each  other.  It  is  related  that  one  year  at  the  con- 
clusion of  the  Anniversaries,  Dr.  Tyng  expressed  the  great 
pleasure  that  he  had  derived  from  the  meetings ;  the  union 
of  Christians  here  giving  him  a  sweet  foretaste  of  that 
perfect  communion  v/hich  would  be  formed  in  heaven ; 
when  he  was  unfortunate  enough  to  hint  that  all  the  good 
people  would  come  to  his  stand-point  and  occupy  themselves 
witli  prayer-books.  Instantly  Dr.  Bethune  was  on  his  feet. 
"  He  felt  exactly  the  same  delight  as  his  Reverend  Brother, 
in  the  privilege  of  mingling  with  believers,  the  joy  of  union 
in  the  Lord ;  and  it  brought  vividly  before  him  the  idea  of 
that  great  heavenly  concert  which  had  been  so  beautifully 
described  by  the  preceding  speaker,  but  he  concluded  there 
was  one  thouo;ht  that  had  never  before  occurred  to  his 

174  MEMOIR   OF    GEO.    W.    BETIIUXE,    D.  D. 

mind,  that  in  heaven  all  the  Christians  would  become 
''Dutch  Reformed."  It  is  needless  to  add  that  the  audience 
were  convulsed  with  laughter  at  this  most  ridiculous  propo- 

In  April,  the  hospitality  of  Dr.  Bethune's  house  was 
offered  to  Mar  Johanan,  the  Nestorian  Bishop  ;  a  truly  pious 
man,  who  became  so  fond  of  his  host,  that  he  could  not  be 
persuaded  to  change  his  residence  during  his  stay  in  Phila- 

In  the  summer  of  this  year,  he  visited  Boston  and 
mingled  freely  with  the  celebrities  there.  Speaking  of  the 
Phi  Beta  Kappa,  he  says :  "  Mr.  W.  B.  Reed  did  capitally 
with  his  oration,"  and  he  adds,  "certainly  I  never  heard 
more  wit  in  the  same  time  from  the  different  speakers.  It 
was  a  constant  coruscation.  I  had  to  speak  among  the  rest, 
and  they  say  I  did  pretty  well,  but  it  was  totally  unexpected 
to  me,  and  I  was  miserably  frightened.  I  have  received 
much  attention  from  literary  men  and  others,  indeed  my 
time  has  been  constantly  occupied.  Bancroft,  the  historian, 
has  been  indefatigable  in  his  attentions.  Mr.  Justice  Story 
has  also  been  very  kind.  I  spent  an  evening  with  Allston, 
the  great  painter  of  this  country,  and  have  been  all  to-day 
and  yesterday  looking  at  his  and  other  pictures ;  there  are 
a  great  many  good  ones  in  Boston.  Prescott  sent  me  a 
kind  message,  but  I  have  been  unable  to  see  him  or  Dana. 
I  have  been  invited  in  the  evening  by  a  Mrs.  S.,  sister-in- 
law  of  our  Mrs.  S.  Mrs.  L.,  (wife  of  the  eminent  lawyer) 
Mrs.  H.,  who  is  the  very  sweet  wife  of  a  most  accomplished 
young  man,  and  Mr.  Abbot  Lawrence  have  paid  me  atten- 

G.  "W.  B.  TO  Miss  C M .  "  Philadelphia,  September  28. 

My  dear  Child  :  I  have  really  been  trying  to  find  time  for  an  epis- 
tolary chat  with  you  ever  since  I  received  your  last  and  abounding 


letter,  the  more  welcome  because  abounding,  but  I  have  not  had  a 
moment's  leisure  except  when  completely  tired  of  holding  the  pen,  and 
unfit  to  think.  I  am  writing  now  with  a  sermon  just  brouglit  to  its 
divisions,  looking  up  imploringly  in  my  face ;  that  must  be  finished,  and 
another,  with  diverse  other  things,  before  Sunday.  I  am  also  busy 
upon  my  lectures,  the  four  for  the  Athenian  Institute,  which  require 
much  time  in  searching  out  references  and  in  making  plain  my  style 
upon  such  abstract  subjects.  I  have  also  to  write  within  two  weeks  the 
first  lecture  of  the  season  for  the  Sunday  school  teachers,  who  turn  out 
in  great  numbers,  and  expect  something  elaborate.  All  this  and  much 
more  could  be  done  very  well  if  I  had  my  time  without  interruption, 
but  you  know  how  it  is  here.  I  want  very  mucli  to  get  at  my  book  on 
the  angels,  which  I  am  determined  (Providence  permitting)  to  write 
this  season.  I  have  become  so  full  on  the  subject  that  the  distension  is 

By  the  way,  speaking  of  books  puts  me  in  mind  of  Tayler  Lewis, 
whom  you  spoke  of  in  a  letter  sometime  since  as  being  a  neighbor  of 
yours.  You  may  well  like  his  '  Believing  Spirit,'  (is  not  that  the  title  ?) 
for  it  is  a  glorious  burst  of  high  philosophical  feeling.  No  doubt  Plato 
was  wrong  in  many  things,  he  was  not  the  sober,  unromantic  though 
earnest  thinker  that  liis  master  was,  but  his  immortal  longings  were  very 
noble.  Transcendentalism  is  platonisra  run  mad,  and  yet,  transcen- 
dentalism, mad  and  mischievous  as  it  is,  has  done  much  good  in  Boston, 
and  bids  fair  to  destroy  old  Unitarianism  by  spiritualizing  the  reasonings 
of  people.  Unitarianism  is  the  offspring  of  materialism,  and  the  day  of 
materialism  is  wellnigh  at  an  end. 

The  Synod  made  me  one  of  their  committee  to  select  hymns  for  a 
Sunday  school  book.  At  first  I  thought  I  would  have  nothing  to  do 
with  it,  as  we  can  not  have  a  better  book  than  the  American  Union's. 
But  then  I  thought  again,  it  will  add  so  many  to  the  hymns  appointed 
to  be  sung  in  our  churches.  Now  here  's  a  chance  for  you.  Mark  for 
me  all  the  hymns  you  love,  and  your  father  loves,  and  your  mother 
loves,  and  your  sisters  love,  that  the  object  can  allow,  and  we  will  try 
to  get  in  as  many  as  we  can  and  have  nice  times  in  singing  them  by  and 
by  Give  me  some  of  your  own  also.  Just  put  on  a  paper  the  num- 
bers and  then  mark  the  book  in  which  they  are. 

Your  punning  in  your  last  about  my  Phi  Beta  Kappa  toast  was 

170  MEMOIR    OF    GEO.    TV.    BETHUNE,    D.  I). 

Kaplial.  Dr.  Johnson  himself  could  not  say  Phi !  upon  such  wit,  but 
would  exultingly  exclaim  of  you,  Let  the  Fun  dits  try  to  Beta  (beat  her). 
But  really  this  is  terrible.  My  trying  to  equal  you  reminds  me  that 
the  over-ambitious  are  liable  to  the  fate  of  Esop's  frog  and  steam 
boilers.  You  will  not  believe  me  the  less,  because  I  put  it  just  at  the 
close,  that  I  shall  be  very  happy,  and  I  am  sure  my  dear  wife  to  whom 
you  have  been  such  a  comfort  will  be,  to  have  you  with  us  tliis  winter. 
Come  as  soon  as  you  can,  and  thank  your  kind  parents  in  our  name 
for  letting  you  come.     Love  to  all. 

Yours  veiy  sincerely,  G.  W.  B." 

The  month  of  Septeraber,  was  marked  by  the  delivery 
of  the  discourse  on  the  "  Eloquence  of  the  Pulpit,"  before 
the  Porter  Rhetorical  Society  of  the  Theological  Seminary 
at  Andover.  This  oration  has  the  distinction  of  being 
the  longest,  if  not  the  greatest,  of  his  printed  addresses. 

Mrs.  J.  B.  to  G.  \Y.  B.  "  December  30. 

I  write  to  state  that  Miss  Murray  called  to  ask  if  it  would  be  agree- 
able to  you  to  preach  the  sermon  for  the  widows  in  the  Dutch  Church, 
Lafayette  Place.  Dr.  Knox  expressed  a  wish  to  have  it  there.  Dr. 
Potts  also  said  he  would  like  to  have  you  in  his  church;  of  course  I 
said  Lafayette  would  be  the  most  suitable.  I  heard  Dr.  Potts  preach 
two  charity  sermons  last  Sabbath;  both  admirable,  one  for  Home 
Missionaries  in  his  own  church  which  brought  out  $  500,  the  oth-er  in 
Button's  church  in  the  evening  ;  text,  '  He  hath  dispersed,  he  hath  given 
to  the  poor.'  ....  In  speaking  of  relieving  the  wants  of  the  poor,  he 
said  we  ought  not  merely  to  supply  their  immediate  wants,  but  endeavor 
to  elevate.  Now  a  political  economist  would  rather  take  another  view; 
endeavor  to  sustain  and  prevent  from  falling  into  irremediable  indi- 
gence.    At  least  this  must  iirst  be  done." 

This  letter  relates  to  Dr.  Bethune's  sermon  before 
the  Widows'  Society ;  and  his  provident  mother  gives  him 
full  advice  concerning  the  way  in  which  to  preach  it. 


G.  W.  B.  TO  Mrs.  J.  B.  ''April  30,  1843. 

We  are  surrounded  by  excitements  witii  reference  to  the  Episcopal 
Controversy,  and  certainly  the  tendency  that  Avay  is  checked,  but  the 
fashionable  world  is  on  their  side.  I  am  sick  of  the  whole  business,  and 
have  been  busy  preaching  justification  by  faith." 

The  controversy  thus  alluded  to,  was  the  famous  one  be- 
tween  Drs.   Potts  and  Wainwright,  originating  in  the  sen- 
timent uttered  by  Hon.   Rufus  Choate,  in  his  celebrated 
oration  before  the  New  England  Society,  delivered  in  the 
old  Broadway  Tabernacle,  Dec.  20,  1842,  '  A  church  without 
a  Bishop,  and  a  State  without  a  King.'     There  were  several 
points  in  it  which  must  have  made  it  a  peculiar  trial  to  Dr. 
Bethune.    Dr.  Potts  was  the  pastor  of  his  mother,  and  they 
were  frequently  brought  into  the  closest  relations,  while  Dr. 
Wainright  was  a  most  intimate  friend.     Perhaps  there  were 
few  houses  in  New  York  where  Dr.  Bethune  was  so  fre- 
quently and  generously  entertained,  as  at  that  of  his  Epis- 
copal brother.     The   debate  waxed   hot   and  wrathy,  and 
good  Dr.  Potts,  with  all  his  strength  of  argument  and  clas- 
sic  beauty  of  style,   did  not  shew  the  same  dexterity  in 
management  as  distinguished  his  acute  assailant ;  and  the 
proud    Presbyterian    banner   for   a    time   passed   under   a 
shadow.      A  caricature  appeared  of  a  man  hurling  a  big 
wheel  at  a  large  assembly  of  jars,  which  were  thrown  into 
great  consternation. 

Short  sketches  of  the  more  distinguished  public  charac- 
ters now  appeared  in  the  New  York  Sun.  In  this  gal- 
lery our  illustrious  Doctor  shone  conspicuously.  "  I  send 
you,"  he  writes  to  his  mother,  October  28,  1843,  "for 
your  amusement,  the  sketch  of  your  son  in  the  Sun,  the  man 
in  the  moon  is  nothing  to  such  a  solar  luminary.  It  is  per- 
fectly ridiculous."  This  paper,  while  it  has  little  merit  in 

178  MEMOIR    OF    GEO.    W.    BETIIUNE,    D.  D. 

itself,  yet  serves  to  show  the  high  position  he  ah'eady  occu- 
pied in  the  public  view.  During  one  of  his  summer  excur- 
sions in  Pennsylvania,  he  came  in  the  vicinity  of  a  preacher 
of  the  doctrine  of  ''Perfection,"  and  was  led  by  curiosity 
to  attend  his  lecture.  These  men  are  not  settled  preachers, 
but  rove  about  the  country  addressing  such  audiences  as 
they  can  collect,  assuming  an  air  of  superior  virtue,  and 
unsettling  the  minds  of  good  people,  by  extravagant  views. 
On  this  occasion  the  preacher  had  his  house  full,  and  Dr. 
Bethune  found  it  more  agreeable  to  take  his  position  at  a 
window.  The  argument  being  ended,  an  invitation  was 
given  to  any  one  present  to  reply  ;  this  was  done  for  effect, 
as  it  was  quite  certain  that  in  a  plain  country  audience,  no 
one  would  be  prepared  to  make  a  speech.  But,  to  the  dis- 
may of  the  orator,  a  clear  voice  from  the  window  rang 
through  the  church : 

"  Paul  said  in  liis  Epistle  to  the  Galatians,  that  when  Peter  was  come 
to  Antioch,  Paul  withstood  him  to  the  face,  because  he  was  to  be  blamed. 
Now  if  Peter  was  right,  then  Paul  was  wrong,  if  Paul  was  right,  then 
Peter  was  wrong.  One  of  these  great  Apostles  must  have  been  imper- 

The  Perfectionist,  not  seeing  the  person  who  spoke,  and 
confused  with  the  well-made  point,  cried  out,  "  Is  that  the 
voice  of  Satan,  or  one  of  his  imps  that  I  hear  ?  "  Our 
brave  Doctor,  thus  challenged,  quickly  presented  himself 
to  the  people.  Announcing  his  well-known  name,  he  said, 
that  the  simple  Scripture  he  had  quoted,  refuted  the  long 
harangue,  and  advised  them  all  to  go  home  and  not  be  dis- 
turbed by  such  folly.  Wherever  the  man  afterwards  went, 
he  had  dinned  into  his  ears,  "  If  Paul  was  right,  then  Peter 
was  wrong,  and  if  Peter  was  right,  then  Paul  was  wrong." 

RIOTS   IX   PHILADELnilA.  179 

For  some  years  there  had  existed  in  Philadelphia  a  spirit 
of  lawlessness,  which  was  rather  enconraged  than  sub- 
dued by  the  weak  City  Government.  The  Native  American 
party  was  now  putting  on  its  strength,  and  as  its  efforts 
were  directed  against  the  foreign  element  in  the  popula- 
tion, its  advance  created  a  corresponding  bitterness  of 
feeling  on  their  part.  An  important  election  was  now  in 
prospect,  and  animosity  ran  high,  until  in  May,  1844,  the 
forces  came  into  actual  conflict.  For  some  days  the  streets 
of  that  city  were  turned  into  a  theatre  of  civil  war.  As 
nearly  as  we  remember,  the  Romish  party  took  the  lead  in 
aggressive  movement,  and  the  discovery  of  a  large  number 
of  fire-arms  which  had  been  concealed  in  the  church  of  St. 
Philip  de  Neri,  excited  the  most  extravagant  fears  among 
the  Americans.  The  riots  now  assumed  more  alarming 
proportions  ;  the  military  were  called  out,  and  many  of 
the  mob  were  shot  down  before  the  disturbance  was 
quelled.  A  reference  to  these  disorders  occurs  in  the  fol- 
lowing letter : 

G.  W.  B.  TO  Mrs.  J.  B.  *'  May  21,  1844. 

My  Dearest  Mother:  You  will  be  glad  to  hear  that  we  are  all 
well,  after  the  exciting  times  through  which  we  have  passed.  Persons 
at  a  distance,  I  find,  estimate  our  danger  to  have  been  greater  than  we 
thought  it  ourselves.  It  was  very  dreadful  to  hear  the  roar,  but  the 
noise  came  not  near  us,  and,  perhaps,  we  never  were  safer,  because 
guarded  on  every  hand  by  vigilant  patrols.  The  catholic  population  are 
prodigiously  frightened,  and  they  ought  to  be,  as  it  was  their  outrageous 
and  murderous  violence,  which  led  to  all  the  mischief.  The  disgrace  is 
great,  but  I  cannot  doubt  that  the  effect  in  the  long  run  will  be  good." 

At  this  exciting  period,  perhaps  a  little  earlier,  Dr.  Bethune 
delivered  the  annual  sermon  before  "The  Foreign  Evangelical 
Society,"  which  was   organized  to   oppose  the  power   of 

ISO  MEMOIR    OF    GEO,    "SV.    BETIIUNE,    D.  D. 

Popery.  The  text  was  2.  Cor.  ix.,  8  -  14,  the  subject,  "  The 
strength  of  Christian  Charity."  It  was  a  most  elaborate 
production,  and  v.diile  teaching  h^ve  to  all,  it  was  a  strong 
blow  aimed  at  the  Romish  system  : 

'*  But  the  advocate  of  this  cause  may  take  yet  higher  ground.  It  is, 
as  we  have  proved,  indispensable  to  the  triumph  of  evangelical  truth, 
that  its  friends  be  united  in  catholic  love,  and  concert  of  action.  We 
must  make  practical  that  article  of  our  faith,  which  holds  to  one  church, 
and  one  communion  of  saints.  The  hosts  of  anti- Christian  Rome  are 
many,  but  never  divided.  One  heart,  beating  within  the  Vatican,  circu- 
lates one  zeal  through  all  the  monstrous  body,  which  returns  again  to 
feed  the  fountain  of  its  pernicious  life.  Popery  knows  no  country,  but 
mingles  with  all  people ;  speaks  all  languages,  but  one  creed ;  shouts 
for  democracy  in  xlmcrica,  and  excommunicates  the  liberals  of  Spain; 
demands  repeal  for  Ireland,  and  arrests  in  France  the  movement  of 
July ;  tolerates  no  other  religion  when  it  has  the  power,  and  whimpers 
of  persecution  if,  in  Protestant  lands,  the  Bible  is  read  in  the  schools. 
It  speaks  from  the  imperial  city,  and  in  ail  the  world,  cardinal  and  pre- 
late, and  monk  and  priest  and  penitent  own,  by  mystic  sign  and  ready 
genuflexion,  devout  submission.  Its  eyes  are  upon  every  man ;  its  voice 
is  heard  in  royal  cabinets  and  republican  legislatures  ;  its  hands  tamper 
with  the  absolute  sceptre  and  pollute  the  ballot  box ;  its  learning  gives 
tutors  to  the  children  of  the  great,  and  opens  free  schools  of  error  for 
the  children  of  the  many;  its  charities  mingle  the  poison  of  idolatry 
with  bread  for  the  hungry  and  medicines  for  the  sick.  Everywhere  it  is 
one,  though  in  a  thousand  shapes.  Who  can  avoid  admiration  of  the 
vastness,  the  energy,  and  the  system  of  its  combination !  No  wonder 
they  are  so  strong,  when  they  are  so  united. 

Brethren,  let  the  tactics  of  an  enemy  teach  us  the  method  of  success 
which  the  Gospel  has  taught  in  vain.  There  are  portions  of  the  Christian 
world  not  papal,  whose  narrow  bigotry  refuses  union  with  us ;  but  what, 
except  unworthy  suspicions  and  weakness  of  faith,  prevents  a  Catholi- 
cism of  evangelical  servants  under  one  Head  and  High  Priest,  Jesus? 
Why  should  we  know  country,  or  language,  or  race,  when  wo  are  chil- 
dren of  one  Father  and  servants  of  a  mission  to  the  world? 


Let  us  also  consider  the  opportunities  and  means  of  usefulness  which 
our  European  brethren  enjoy.  The  fabrics  of  superstition  which 
here  are  new  and  modified,  there  are  crumbling  to  ruins,  tottering  in 
decayed  ugliness  to  their  fall.  The  people  more  than  suspect  the  alli- 
ance of  priesthood  and  tyranny  to  grind  them  in  bondage.  Every  blow 
now  aimed  at  the  despot,  strikes  the  bigot  ministers  of  a  desecrated 
cross.  If  the  Bible  be  not  recognized  as  the  charter  of  freedom,  the 
right  to  read  it  will  be  claimed  as  the  privilege  of  freemen.  The  sympa- 
thies of  every  liberal  heart  are  with  a  free  religion,  every  advance  of 
popular  rights  opens  the  way  for  the  Gospel,  and  each  hour  is  big  with 
portents  of  far-spreading  changes. 

I  would  not  speak  in  disparagement  of  learning  with  proper  limits  as 
an  aid  to  religion.  But  the  church  has  too  much  idolized  learning  and 
authority,  ever  since  the  Reformation.  And  what  has  been  the  conse- 
quence? In  university  after  university,  on  the  continent  of  Europe, 
professors  of  theology  have  substituted  a  proud  rationalism  for  the  child- 
like faitli  of  Jesus  ;  and  still  more  recently  tlie  most  venerable  seat  of 
learning  in  Britain  has  startled  the  Protestant  world  with  the  bad  design 
of  uniting  learning,  genius  and  taste,  in  a  conspiracy  to  bring  back  the 
ages  of  darkness  upon  the  world,  when  tlie  few  ruled  the  many  and  fat- 
tened the  priesthood.  Popery  again  uplifts  her  bruised  and  brazen  face 
in  hope,  as  she  sees  one  so  hoary  witli  years  entering  her  noviciate,  ap- 
ing her  pretensions,  copying  her  garments,  and  practising  her  mummer- 
ies ;  boasting  her  titles,  bearing  aloft  her  symbols,  and  attempting,  with 
ridiculous  failure,  the  thunder  of  her  anathemas.  Not  a  few  Christians 
prognosticate  a  general  miscliief,  and  would  invoke  some  Christian  Her- 
cules to  slay  the  Hydra  that  comes  forth  from  deeper  shades  than  the 
Lerngean  swamp  to  ravage  the  Church. 

Our  friends  in  France  and  Switzerland  have  taught  us  better  means 
and  better  hopes,  by  sending  an  army  of  simple  men,  with  no  other 
weapon  than  the  pure  Gospel  on  the  h.oly  page ;  and  God,  who  blessed 
the  rod  of  Moses,  and  the  hammer  of  Jael,  and  the  labours  of  primitive 
Christianity,  has  blessed,  and  will  bless,  the  colporteurs  with  their  Bibles 
and  tlieir  Tracts.  Already  they  diffuse  the  holy  leaven.  Already  have 
many  souls  been  brought  to  God.  Already  does  superstition  gnash  her 
tectli,  as  she  feels  the  net  drawn  closer  and  closer  around  her  by  the 
multitudes  of  these  faithful  men.  Let  us  but  increase  the  army  as  we 
may,  and  Babylon  herself  shall  fall  before  tliem.  Strength  is  in  their 
weakness,  for  the  excellency  of  the  power  is  of  God. 

182  MEMOIR    or   GEO.    \V.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

Consider,  also,  our  deep  interest  in  their  successes.  Already  do  many 
Christians  tremble  at  the  incursions  of  popery  upon  our  own  soil.  A 
little  while  since,  some  of  us  may  have  smiled  at  these  fears  as  vision- 
ary. The  light  of  the  nineteenth  century  seemed  too  great  in  this  land 
of  free  thought  to  allow  the  influence  of  such  superstition  over  a  single 
mind  not  educated  under  it  from  early  life.  But  have  we  not  seen  with- 
in a  few  years  past,  thousands  of  converts  flockiug  round  the  standard  of 
a  vulgar,  ignorant,  and  vile  leader,  whose  pretensions  to  prophecy  would 
have  been  contemptible  had  they  not  been  so  mischievous.  Have  we 
not  also  been  astonished  at  the  defection  of  grave  and  educated  men 
from  the  simple  Gospel,  as  it  is  written  in  God's  own  word,  to  the  au- 
thority of  shadowy  tradition ;  who,  while  they  insist  upon  a  church  in  a 
priesthood  of  doubtful  genealogy,  would  revive  the  aristocracy  of  an- 
cient Pharisaism,  which  accounted  the  common  people  as  little  better 
than  profane.  The  growth  of  Mormonism  among  the  vulgar,  and  of  this 
perversion  of  Christian  doctrine  which  has  no  name  of  sufficient  dignity 
for  utterance  here  among  the  more  refined,  shew  us  too  plainly  that 
the  human  mind  in  no  circumstances  can  be  preserved  from  superstition 
except  by  the  Spirit  of  God. 

We  are  not  then  safe  from  Romanism.  Every  eastern  wind  wafts 
hitherward  its  priests  and  adherents  laden  with  gifts  to  corrupt  our 
people.  Already  has  the  cry  been  heard  arousing  Christians  to  defence 
of  truth  and  freedom.  But  whence  do  they  come.  Why  stand  we  only 
on  the  defensive.  Why  may  we  not  cross  the  sea  and  besiege  Car- 
thage? Why  not  plant  our  vanguards  on  the  passes  of  the  Alps,  send 
our  spies  into  the  very  camp  of  the  enemy,  and  await  the  happy  mo- 
ment (which,  if  it  please  God,  is  not  distant,)  when,  like  Atilla,  though 
with  better  weapons  and  higher  aims,  we  may  thunder  at  the  gates 
of  Rome  itself  ?  When  ancient  Rome  fell,  tlie  empire  was  broken  into 
fragments.  When  papal  Rome  falls,  popery  will  soon  be  no  more. 
Cue  blow  on  the  head  is  worth  a  hundred  at  its  extremities.  One  thrust 
to  its  heart,  and  all  the  convolutions  of  its  myriad  folds  will  relax  in 
death.  Are  there  no  smooth  stones  in  '  the  brook  that  flows  fast  by  the 
oracles  of  God'?  Is  there  no  shepherd  boy  nor  herdsman's  son  among 
those  mountain  Christians  to  wield  a  sling? 

Christian  brethren,  I  have  done. " 

This  sermon    was   originally   delivered  in  New  York,  hiii 

LETTER    OF   MR.    ORR.  183 

either  this  discourse,  or  one  similar  in  spirit  must  have  been 
spoken  in  Philadelphia,  and  produced  a  happy  effect.  Dr, 
Bethune  seems  to  have  consented  to  its  publication,  but  up- 
on reflection  changed  his  mind,  when  we  find  the  matter 
urged  upon  him  in  the  following  courteous  letter. 

Hector  Orr  to  G.  W.  B.  «  May  27,  1844. 

Ret.  Sir  :  I  have  received  your  note  instead  of  your  MS. ;  no  per- 
sonal inconvenience  will  be  felt  through  your  decision,  for  which  you 
certainly  have  high  authority,  since  John  Knox  himself  turned  back 
from  Scotland,  through  the  advice  of  friends.  (I  had  written  this  when 
Mr.  Clark  came  in  to  get  the  '  copy ' ;  I  made  him  acquainted  with 
your  latest  views,  and  he  in  return  informed  me  you  were  most  probably 
out  of  the  city.  My  first  inclination  was  to  lay  down  the  pen  until  a 
better  excuse  for  using  it  arrived,  but  having  thought  much  about  the 
sermon  and  caused  you  to  send  more  than  once,  from  more  than 
a  mile's  distance,  '  I  wish  to  put  on  record'  my  reasons  for  urging  the 

It  has  been  my  high  privilege  from  early  years  to  have  intimate 
intercourse  with  some  of  the  most  devoted  Christians  of  this  my  native 
city,  an  intimacy  such  as  few  without  the  pale  of  the  church  have 
enjoyed — qualifying  me  to  some  extent,  to  enter  into  the  feelings  of 
this  great  and  venerable  class  at  this  time.  The  peculiar  point  on  which 
attention  was  first  excited  in  this  movement  —  the  banishment  of  the 
Bible  —  touched  a  chord  in  these  men's  breasts  such  as  is  unknown  in  the 
moral  anatomy  of  the  demagogue  ;  next,  the  murder  of  their  friends  and 
neighbors  wrung  this  chord  to  torture,  and  their  desertion  by  the  secular 
press  completed  the  outrage  ;  and  while  suffering  under  this  delirium, 
infidel  eavesdroppers  have  been  apt  to  catch  their  exclamations  and 
report  them  as  '  the  sentiments  of  the  party.' 

To  you,  much  honored  friend,  who,  through  elegant  leisure  or 
refined  toil,  have  long  been  familiar  with  '  man's  duty  and  the  reasons^ 
of  it,'  /need  not  stop  in  my  drudgery  to  say  that  this  fever  in  the  whole 
evangelical  community  is  undesirable,  or  that  it  would  be  high  Christian 
kindness  to  allay  it ;  but  this  fact  may  have  escaped  you,  that  nothing 
well  adapted  to  this  end  has  yet  .appeared,  except  your  sermon.     In  my 

184  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    AV.    BETIIUNE,    D.  D. 

short  experience  I  have  found  it  a  first  requisite  to  the  pacification  of 
chafed  human  nature,  to  evince  a  hearty  appreciation  of  the  cxcHing 
wrong.  Thence  springs  that  confidence  so  indispensable  to  successful 
persuasion,  through  which  we  become  willing  to  be  led  in  the  way  cf 
peace,  which  in  the  present  crisis  is  so  eminently  the  path  of  duty. 
This  real  sympathy  with  the  torn  heart  of  Philadelphia  you  alone  have 
exhibited,  and  I  sought  to  extend  the  infiuence  of  this  word  fitly  spoken, 
beyond  the  mere  compass  of  your  voice." 

About  the  same  date  wrote  the  Hod.  Charles  Sumner,  of 

"  How  exalted  in  the  scale  of  beneficence  is  he,  whose  labors  con- 
tribute to  extend  the  culture  and  capacity  of  the  human  soul  —  to  open 
new  vistas  of  knowledge,  to  awaken  dormant  impulses  and  suscepti- 
bilities, to  enlarge  the  sphere  of  study  and  action,  to  strengthen  faith. 
Your  generous  exertions  in  this  field,  have  already  found  a  reward  in 
the  applause  of  good  men,  and  in  the  consciousness  of  doing  good,  to 
which  my  mite  can  add  nothing." 

"  From  grave  to  gay". 

G.  W.  B.  TO  Miss  Caroline  May.  "  Saratoga  Springs,  Aug.  3. 

My  dear  child :  I  write  to  you  because  you  sent  me  such  a  nice  letter, 
on  the  first,  which  I  received  this  morning,  and  because  I  wish  to  talk 

I  have  heard  Ole  Bull ;  my  ear  is  now  vibrating  witli  the  most  atten- 
uated, sweetest,  softest  note  it  ever  heard  ;  his  last  this  evening.  He  is 
about  six  feet  one  or  two  inches  high,  and  well  made,  his  head  good 
though  rather  low,  but  long,  and  particularly  square  or  rectangular  at 
the  sides.  He  wears  his  hair  very  plain  and  no  moustache.  His  face 
is  not  handsome  but  honest,  and  at  times  intense.  His  music  dis- 
appointed me.  Ever  since  he  came  here  I  have  been  accumulating 
expectation,  and  as  that  has  been  for  months,  it  was  very  high.  I  am 
disappointed.  He  has  exceeded  my  highest  imagination.  No  trick,  no 
playing  on  one  string,  no  convulsive  eflforts,  but  clear,  perfect  tone. 

OLE    BULL.  185 

steady  boAving,  and  a  perfect  mastery  of  all  his  instruments.  His 
opening  piece  was  in  three  parts ;  a  sweet,  subdued  allegro,  then  a  very 
pure  adagio,  and  then  a  graceful  pastoral ;  in  the  first,  he  played  at  one 
time  a  complete  trio  with  the  bow,  each  part  distinctly  marked,  and  tlie 
harmony  admirable  and  somewhat  complicated  ;  in  the  second  he  had  a 
pizzicato  passage  beyond  any  thing  I  could  ever  dream  of;  it  was  better, 
yes,  better  than  any  harp,  and  while  this  was  going  on  Avith  his  finger, 
his  bow  was  busy  with  delicious,  steady  accompaniment  to  the  staccato 
movement.  The  last  part  was  distinguished  by  a  passage  so  like  a 
piccolo,  that  no  piccolo  was  ever  so  good.  His  next  piece  was  his 
Carnival  of  Venice.  His  imitations  were  of  Punch  and  Judy  in  their 
box ;  you  could  almost  hear  the  words.  Then  a  lady  sang  who  was  very 
frightened,  you  could  hear  her  gasping  for  breath;  then  a  bird  sang; 
any  canary  would  have  broken  its  heart  with  envy  to  hear  itself  out- 
warbled,  and  all  this  on  the  theme  of  "  O  come  to  me  when  daylight 
sets."  After  this  he  played  a  mother's  prayer;  slow,  sweet,  solemn, 
and  reverent,  than  tender,  pleading,  earnest — then  anxious,  dep- 
recatory, and  then  by  chromatic  crescendo,  shivering  with  importunate 
supplication,  until  the  mother's  heart  was  poured  out,  and  peace  filled 
it,  and  she  hushed  herself  to  repose.  His  last  piece  on  the  bill  was  a 
warlike  Polacca,  various  in  character,  and  bringing  all  his  powers  in 
play,  the  last  twenty  bars  of  rich,  steady  bowing  the  very  best  of  the 
evening,  and  beyond  conception  good.  An  encore  brought  him  out 
again,  when  he  played  Hail  Columbia  and  Yankee  Doodle,  but  not  as 
astonishingly  as  Max  Bohrer." 

We  give  here  another  letter  on  the  same  subject,  to  the 
same  young  music-loving  friend. 

"Philadelphia,  Nov.  11. 

My  Dear  Caro  :  (Is  it  the  11?)  (Monday  it  is.)  I  should  have 
written  before,  but  have  been  sick  in  bed  with  a  cold,  not  aple  to  preach 
any  yesterday,  and  only  once  the  Sunday  previous  and  Mrs.  B.  has  been 
and  is  still  (for  I  am  better,)  worse  than  I,  Avitli  the  same  influenza. 
So  it  is  when  you  are  not  here. 

*'  Tliere's  iiae  luck  about  the  Jiouse"  when  Caro's  in  New   York. 

I  thank  you  for  your  kinkness  in  writing,  your  letters  are  always  wel- 

186  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

come  for  your  sake  and  their  own.     Let  me  see  what  I  can  tell  you  in 

We  can  get  no  organist  to  suit  us  :  M.  L.  has  turned  out  an  astonish- 
ing genius,  and  we  think  of  trusting  to  him,  at  least  till  we  can  find  one 
really  excellent.  Maggie  S.  and  I  went  some  time  since  to  hear  an  Eng- 
lishman (and  I  think  a  Jew),  Henry  Philips,  sing  Handel,  and  liked 
him  very  well.  He  told  us,  by  the  way,  that  Catalani  and  Malibran  and 
Paganini  were  of  Jewish  blood.  I  knew  Rossini,  Meyerbeer,  Mendels- 
sohn, Braham  &c.,  were,  but  never  thought  the  three  names  above  could 

*  Apropos  des  bottes ',  as  our  friend  Dr.  B.  says,  talking  of  Paganini 
puts  me  in  mind  of  what  happened  last  Monday  to  Mrs.  B.,  at  about  one 
o'clock.  In  came  Mr.  Scherr  and,  and,  and,  —  Ole  Bull —  and,  and, 
and,  his  violin  ! !  I  had  said  to  Mr.  Scherr,  a  day  or  two  before,  that  Mrs. 
B.  would  be  so  happy  if  she  could  hear  Ole  Bull,  when  he  said  he  would 
ask  him,  and  on  Saturday  he  sent  me  word  that  he  would  come  on  Mon- 
day at  noon;  and  (being  told  to  ask  nobody)  Mrs.  E.  came  over  to 
be  the  dowager,  and  Maggie  came  to  be  the  young  lady,  and  good  Mr. 
Nevius,  the  missionary,  happened  to  be  here,  and  Ole  Bull  after  chatting 
awhile  with  Mrs.  B. ,  who  satin  her  wheeled  chair  to  prove  that  she  was 
an  invalid,  opened  the  violin  case,  and  said  that  his  '  effects'  were  cal- 
culated for  a  greater  distance  than  he  could  have  in  Mrs.  B's  little  par- 
lor, and  so,  to  Annie's  utter  consternation,  he  went  into  the  back  room, 
which,  like  Richard  III.,  was  but  half  made  up.  He  stood  before  the 
wardrobe,  the  doors  open  between  the  rooms,  and  played  —  first  the  fa- 
mous Melancolie,  with  the  tremolo  passage,  and  then  an  air  or  two  varied 
in  the  most  exquisite  style ;  then  we  all  thanked  him,  Mrs.  B.  with  tears 
in  her  eyes  (  I  told  her  to  cry  if  she  could).  Then  he  began  again  and 
played 'Auld  Robin  Gray;' you  could  tell  the  very  place  where  her 
father  '  broke  his  arm,'  and  where  *  we  tore  ourselves  away '.  From  this 
he  passed  on  to  an  air  of  Rossini,  and  then  went  into  the  best  parts  of 
the 'Carnival  of  Venice.'  I  have  heard  him  play  three  times  in  public, 
but  never  better  than  here.  Now  think,  my  little  lady,  what  you  miss- 
ed by  not  being  here.  Maggie  sang  '  Solitario, '  and  then  he  promised 
Mrs.  B.  to  come  in  the  evening  and  play  'The  Mother's  Prayer', 
which  needs  a  piano  accompaniment,  so  please  to  come  and  play  it. 
Annie  thought  Bull  was  well  enough,  but  that  Miss  S.  was  better 
than  all  the  fiddles  (fiddles  was  the  word)  in  the  world ! ! ! 


I  told  her  that  Bull  was  tho  how  ideal  of  music  —  but  she  did  not  take. 

'Dear  o  me, '  I  have  filled  my  sheet  with  Ole  Bull,  which  I  did  not 
mean  to  have  done. 

I  am  very  glad  Dempster  was  grateful  enough  to  you  for  the  trouble 
you  took,  to  go  up  and  sing  for  you.  I  should  like  to  have  his  airs  to 
my  songs. 

Here  is  a  letter  all  about  music,  as  if  I  thought  of  nothing  else;  but 
somehow  music  and  Caro  always  go  together  in  my  thoughts.  Caro  and 
caro   lling. 

My  best  regards  (Mrs.  B.  is  asleep)  to  all  your  kind  family,  and  be- 
lieve me  as  ever,  my  dear  child, 

Your  affectionate  friend, 

George  W.  Bethune." 

W.  R.  Dempster  to  G.  W.  B.  *'  Odoher  8,  1844. 

Rev.  and  Dear  Sir  :  I  received  your  valuable  and  agreeable  corres- 
pondence on  my  arrival  home,  and  ought  to  have  acknowledged  the  favor 
before  this  time,  but  Iwas  desirous  first  to  be  able  to  give  you  some  account 
of  my  progress.  I  am  now  extremely  happy  in  being  able  to  do  so,  sofar 
satisfactorily.  The  four  songs  which  you  sent  are  all  beautiful.  I  liavc 
set  two  of  them.  '  I  hae  a  cup,'  I  have  sung  before  the  public,  and 
it  has  made  quite  a  sensation,  it  is  constantly  encored.  I  think  I  have 
been  more  than  usually  successful  in  giving  it  an  air.  Mr.  Lewis  Gay- 
lord  Clark  says  it  is  a  perfect  gem,  and  wishes  to  publish  it  in  the  Knick- 
erbocker. I  told  him  I  was  not  at  liberty  to  use  your  name  with  it,  but 
tliat  1  would  furnish  him  with  a  copy.  The  other  one  I  have  sot  begins 
♦  I  know  not  if  thou'rt  beautiful,  '  which  to  my  thinking  is  a  beautiful 
song,  but  not  so  effective  as  the  other,  although  I  have  not  yet  sung  it  in 

Upon  reflection  I  feel  a  little  delicacy  in  resetting  the  first  one,  as  the 
former  composer  may  think  it  invidious  in  me  to  do  so,  but  we  shall  see. 
I  may  try  my  hand  on  it  if  I  do  not  publish  it. 

The  other  one  about  the  '  gloaming '  which  you  have  been  kind  enough 
to  write  expressly  for  me,  is  truly  beautiful,  and  I  wish  to  take  my  happi- 
est moods  and  greatest  pains  to  make  it  shine  out. 

I  know  it  will  be  pleasing  to  you  to  hear  that  I  have  been  so  success- 
ful thus  far.  I  am  truly  delighted  with  the  '  cup  o'  gude  red  wine, '  and 
hope  to  let  you  judge  of  its  flavor  as  soon  as  I  come  to  Philadelphia.  " 

188  MEi».:OIR   OF    GEO.    W.    BETIIUNE,    D.  D. 

In  November  of  this  year  f  1844)  another  membership  was 
added  to  his  already  long  list.  He  was  elected  by  the  His- 
torical Society  of  Pennsylvania,  and  having  been  invited 
soon  afterward  to  a  public  dinner  by  the  New  York  Histori- 
cal Society,  made  an  extempore  speech  at  that  banquet.  He 
had  contemplated  one  of  a  different  character  ;  but  finding 
that  the  tone  of  the  meeting  was  not  what  he  had  expected, 
he,  with  native  versatility,  changed  his  line  and  disap- 
pointed the  Manhattan  audience  of  the  racy  references  to 
the  original  Dutch  colony  of  New  York,  and  the  dear  old 
Knickerbockers,  which  they  had  naturally  looked  for.  The 
meeting  took  altogether  too  much  of  a  Plymouth  Eock, 
Mayflower,  Pilgrim  Father  tone  to  suit  New  Yorkers,  and 
Hendrick  Hudson  was  cruelly  ignored.  The  opinion  gain- 
ed head  that  this  was  a  New  England  festival,  and  to  correct 
tliis  a  copy  of  Dr.  Bethune's  intended  speech  was  requested 
for  publication. 

G.  W.  B.  TO  Mrs.  J.  B.  "  Jan.  1,  1845. 

One  of  those  many  tilings  wliich  w-ill  occur  just  at  the  moment  you 
would  rather  they  would  not,  prevented  this  being  on  your  table  this 
morning,  about  the  same  time  that  I  received  your  most  affectionate  and 
gratifying  letter.  Still,  though  you  may  not  hear  it  until  the  2nd,  it 
is  in  the  morning  of  the  1st  day  of  the  New  Year,  that  I  call  upon  God 
to  bless  my  dear  mother,  and  thank  Him  for  having  made  me  her  son. 
May  His  angel,  the  covenant  one,  be  near  you  to  sustain,  comfort,  and 
direct  the  steps  of  your  age  as  He  has  been  your  guardian  and  guide 
from  your  youth  up. 

As  I  grow  older  and  see  more  of  mankind,  I  can  better  appreciate  the 
restraining  and  converting  influence  of  religion,  while  I  cherish  more 
fondly  the  few  whose  affection  and  piety  have  rendered  them  dear  and 
useful  to  me.  You,  my  mother,  have  been  to  me  more  than  a  mother 
only,  you  have  been  my  teacher,  my  counsellor,  my  considerate  friend. 
I  do  not  know  whether  I  ever  made  an  allusion  to  it  before,  though  it  is 
likely  I  have,  the  association  being  strong  in  my  mind ;  but  there  is  an 

TO   HIS   MOTHER.  189 

expression  of  Cicero's,  in  reference  to  Tiberius  Gracchus,  that  has  al- 
ways seemed  to  me  as  peculiarly  applicable  to  myself,  and  true  of  me 
in  a  far  liigher  sense  than  of  him.  '  He  was  the  oiFspring,'  says  Cicero, 
*  not  more  of  her  womb  than  of  her  soul,  and  nourished  by  her  instruc- 
tion as  much  as  by  her  bosom.'  I  give  a  free  translation,  but  the 
thought.  I  am  persuaded  that  I  owe  you  for  that  which  makes  the  life  I 
derived  from  you,  under  God,  most  valuable,  and  there  is  not  a  thouglit 
that  I  give  to  you,  but  makes  me  more  grateful,  and  you  more  dear. 

This  is  the  honest  outpouring  of  my  heart,  dear  mother,  an  ex- 
pression, which  you  must  allow  me,  once  a  year,  of  my  true  feelings. 
Would  that  I  were  near  you,  with  the  opportunity  to  show  by  acts,  what 
now  only  words  must  show,  how  much  I  consider  my  life  to  belong  to 
yon,  and  how  much  my  happiness  is  wrapped  up  in  yours. 

I  am  not  yet  well,  having  a  very  severe  cold,  which  I  cannot  succeed 
in  shaking  off ;  but  have  been  busy  at  tliis  busy  season.  Our  Christmas 
passed  off  very  well,  the  children  singing  my  hymn  and  tune.  We 
had  a  small,  but  very  gratifying  addition  to  our  communion  on  Sunday, 
four  on  confession,  and  the  same  by  letter ;  few,  but  good  people." 

G.  W.  B.  TO  Mrs.  J.  B.  '  "  Phila.,  March  22,  1845. 

My  Dear  Mother  :  You  might  have  supposed  that  my  first  wish  on 
the  morning  of  my  birthday,  was  to  have  written  to  you,  as  in  other  cir- 
cumstances it  would  have  been  my  first  duty;  but  it  has  rarely  happened 
in  all  my  pastoral  life,  that  so  much  engrossing  and  exciting  engagement, 
has  been  crowded  into  one  day.  I  was,  between  10  a.m.,  and  7  p.m.,  at 
three  death-beds ;  two  of  the  persons,  it  is  true,  still  survive,  but  with  no 
possibility  of  recovery.  They  are  dying,  and  have  been  for  a  week.  A 
visit  to  another  in  very  deep  and  peculiar  aflSiction,  added  to  my  trials, 
so  that  I  had  not  a  moment  to  write,  or  if  I  had,  not  the  heart. 

Yet  I  did  not  forget  you,  my  mother ;  but  remembered  you  where  I 
loved  best  to  remember  those  I  loved  best,  and  loved  best  to  be  remem- 
bered. My  days  are  fast  fleeting.  I  feel  that  I  am  no  longer  young ; 
that  my  step  is  now  down  the  hill.  For  several  years  past,  death  and  eter- 
nity have  been  growing  more  familiar  to  me ;  before,  they  were  rather 
matters  of  faith,  now  they  have  a  real,  almost  sensible  presence.  It  is 
well  it  is  so,  so  that  our  estimate  of  life  be  honest,  not  sickly,  and  our 
thought  of  the  future  hopeful,  not  gloomy. 

I  am  rejoiced  that  your  anxiety  about  the  Orphan  Asylum  is  relieved. 

190  MEMOIR   OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUNE.    D.  D. 

God  may  have  already  sent  liis  angels  (for  I  believe  that  all  Provi- 
dence is  in  the  hands  of  angels)  to  bring  you  comfort.  I  wish  that  I 
had  more  to  comfort  me.  My  communion  is  drawing  nigh,  and,  as  yet,  I 
know  of  but  one  person  who  is  coming  forward  on  confession." 

With  all  the  success  that  had  crowned  his  efforts,  and 
the  general  applause  awarded  him  by  the  great  and  the 
good,  Dr.  Bethune  had  the  modesty  that  graces  the  true 
scholar.  Of  his  famous  sermon  before  the  Foreign  Evan- 
gelical Society,  he  writes,  ''that  it  does  not  suit  him  ;  he 
took  too  much  pains  with  it.  But  possibly  it  may  read 
better  than  it  sounded.''  His  mother  has  no  regret  over 
this  feature,  but  replies,  "  You  always  say  your  sermons 
are  not  good,  I  am  not  afraid  of  you  now.''  But  if  he 
fails,  it  is  not  from  any  lack  of  due  diligence  on  his  part. 
"  I  am  now  in  my  study  laying  out  work  for  many  weeks 
to  come.  Work  is  a  blessed  thing  for  us  mortals,  I  am 
sure  that  nothing,  except  grace,  does  me  more  good." 

We  have  reached  the  year  1845  in  our  track  of  Dr.  Be- 
thune's  life  and  sentiments  ;  but  eighteen  years  still  intervene 
between  this  point  and  the  day  of  his  lamented  death.  We 
must  hasten  on  and  shall  find  it  convenient  to  dv/ell  less 
particularly  than  before  upon  the  periods  of  quiet  residence 
in  the  same  place,  and  pay  more  attention  to  his  changes  of 
life,  their  causes  and  their  consequences.  On  the  6th  Jul^^ 
1845  was  pronounced  the  ''  Discourse  on  the  duty  of  a  Pa- 
triot "  with  some  allusions  to  the  life  and  death  of  Andrew 
Jackson.  This  panegyric  was  a  labor  of  enthusiasm  ;  Jack- 
son being  a  hero,  and  a  hero  of  the  right  sort.  Bethune  was 
just  the  man  to  appreciate  and  praise  with  a  will  him,  who, 
'•  in  the  darkest  hour  of  our  country's  history,  when  a  narrow 
sectionalism  counterfeited  the  color  of  patriotic  zeal,  and 
discord  shook  her  Gorgon  locks,  and  men  shuddered  as  they 


saw,  yawniug  wide  in  the  midst  of  our  confederacy,  a  gulf, 
which  threatened  to  demand  the  devotion  of  many  a  life  be- 
fore it  would  close  again,  sublimely  proclaimed  over  the 
land  that  doctrine  sacred  as  the  name  of  Washington,  '  The 
Union  must  be  preserved  !  '  and  the  storm  died  away  with 
impotent  mutterings.''  This  effort  was  published,  and  well 
received  ;  the  same  may  be  said  in  a  still  greater  degree  of 
the  ''  Plea  for  Study,  '^  delivered  August  19,  before  the  liter- 
ary societies  of  Yale  College.  This  plea  for  study  is  also 
a  plea  for  the  regimen  which  shall  best  fit  man  for  study,  a 
plea  for  exercise  and  fresh  air,  and  fishing  and  genial  society, 
and  moderation  in  eating  and  drinking.  The  lecturer  states 
facts  that  every  one  knows,  that  he  knows  are  known  to  all ; 
but  he  states  them  that  he  may  urge  upon  his  hearers  the 
practice  in  accordance  with  them.  He  instances  himself,  a 
man  with  a  constitution  better  adapted  to  follow  the  plough, 
or  to  sling  a  sledge  and  yet  a  close  student,  an  excessive 
student,  and  worst  of  all  a  night  student,  yet  he  feels  no  in- 
convenience from  it,  solely,  he  believes,  because  he  follows 
a  light,  regular,  but  not  whimsically  abstemious  diet. 

''  I  am  happy",  writes  Hon.  Charles  Sumner,  ''that  the 
master  key  and  talisman  of  knowledge  and  scholarship  is 
commended  so  persuasively  as  it  has  been  by  you.  No  per- 
son, whose  soul  is  not  of  the  lowest  potter's  cla}^,  can  read 
what  you  have  said  without  confessing  new  impulses  to 
learning  and  to  those  good  habits  which  promote  it.  '' 

"  I  like  you,  Bethune,"  writes  Dr.  G-.  W.  Blagden,  Dec. 
11.  "I  hope  the  Lord  will  bless  you.  It  does  me  good  to 
see  a  frank  whole-hearted  minister  of  the  Gospel  now-a-days. 
Sometimes  I  have  thought  that  I  would  dare  to  say  to  you 
that,  in  your  really  generous-hearted  honest  use  of  the  creat- 
ures of  God,  particularly  the  weed  and  the  thing  that  forms 

11)2  MEMOIR    OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

a  good  alliteration  with  it,  you  might  go  a  little  too  far,  but 
then  again,  I  really  like  your  independence  so  much  that  I 
doubt  whether  it  be  best.  And  yet  you  see  I  have  done  it. 
All  I  want  to  say  is  remember  our  '  beloved  brother  Paul's  ' 
doctrine  of  expediency,  and  love  me  as  one  who  at  this  mo- 
ment prays  God  to  bless  you,  and  make  you  unceasingly 
useful  every  day  and  year  you  live.  I  have  inflicted  quite  a 
letter  on  you,  but  retaliate  as  soon  and  as  long  as  you  can.'' 

Prof.  Felton  to  G.  W.  B.  "  Cambridge,   Oct.  10,  1845. 

My  Dear  Sir:  I  received  a  copy  ofyour  Yale  Discourse  yesterday, 
just  as  I  was  getting  into  the  omnibus,  I  ran  over  it  as  well  as  I  could 
then,  but  this  morning  I  have  read  it  carefully  through,  and  I  cannot  help 
writing  you  immediately  to  say  how  well  I  ha^e  been  pleased  by  the  man- 
ner and  the  matter  of  it.  In  particular  I  say  a  hearty  amen  to  your  views 
cf  water  exercise,  and  Political  Economy.  You  might,  in  my  opinion 
have  substituted  on  page  36  '  no  instances '  for  '  very  few.'  I  have  known 
a  great  many  cases  of  young  men,  and  old  men,  who  have  pretended  that 
they  were  injured  in  health  by  '  hard  study,'  and  have  been  sympatliised 
with  accordingly,  but  I  never  knew  a  single  person  who  might  not  have 
done,  without  harming  his  health,  a  great  deal  more  literary  v/ork  by  the 
application  of  common  sense  and  cold  water.  I  once  had  a  fancy  of 
that  sort  myself,  but  a  little  reflection  convinced  me  that  it  was  all  a 
humbug.  My  Greek  studies  taught  me  that  bathing  and  gymnastics  were 
nearly  as  essential  as  languages  and  mathematics,  and  I  devised  with 
forethought  and  deliberation,  a  system  of  shower-bathing  and  dumb- 
bells, which  changed  me  in  a  few  weeks  from  a  '  vertiginous  '  weak- 
ling unfit  for  anything,  to  a  sturdy  fellow,  fitted,  if  need  were, '  to  sling  a 
sledge  or  follow  a  plough. '  I  reverence  the  dumb-bells  and  the  shower- 
bath,  and  were  I  a  Pagan  some  allegorical  rei^resentation  of  these  should 
soon  find  a  place  in  my  Pantheon.  I  do  not  quite  agree  with  you  about 
animal  food.  My  own  experience  teaches  me  that  I  am  better  with  a 
moderate  allowance  in  the  morning  as  well  as  at  noon.  I  can  work  bet- 
ter through  the  day  with  such  a  distribution  of  the  flesh  pots. 

The  system  I  mention  I  have  now  continued  nearly  ten  years,  and 
perhaps  you  remember  enough  of  my  outward  man  to  know  that  I  have 

LETTER   OF   G.    S.    HILLARD.  193 

not,  any  more  than  you,  those  lanthorn  jaws,  cadaverous  sides,  stooping 
shoulders,  that  narrow  chest  and  ghostly  complexion  which  have  been 
considered  indispensable  requisites  to  the  American  literary  character. 

Your  discourse  cannot  fail  to  do  good.  They  need  such  doctrine  at 
Yale  as  much  as  anywhere.  They  are  too  stiff,  solemn,  and  dyspeptic. 
A  friend  of  mine  returning  thence  a  short  time  ago,  asserted  as  of  his 
positive  knowledge,  that  it  was  a  common  custom  there,  to  take  every 
morning  a  strong  mixture  of  ramrods.  How  can  they  be  cheerful  with 
such  a  habit  as  that  ? 

Excuse  this  nonsense.  I  may  urge  in  extenuation  the  authority  of 
one  whom  you  will  admit  to  be  worthy  of  rehance. 

'  Quid  vetat  ridentem  dicere  verum  ?  ' 

Thanking  you  for  your  kind  attention,  I  am  Dear  Sir, 
With  high  regard  your  friend, 

C.  C.  Felton. 
Geo.  S.  Hillard  to  G.  W.  B.  "Boston,  Oct.  13,  1845. 

Mr  Dear  Bethune  :  I  have  read  with  great  pleasure  your  oration 
delivered  at  New  Haven.  It  strikes  me  as  one  of  the  best  things  you 
have  ever  done ;  it  is  vigorous,  learned,  original,  and  true.  It  contains 
the  doctrines  of  the  true  church,  upon  the  great  subject  of  '  study  '  that 
'  vehemens  et  assidua  animi  applicatio'  as  Cicero  so  well  defines  it ;  only 
I  don't  know  about  angling.  The  poor  fish  that  you  pull  out  of  the 
water  with  a  hook  in  his  gullet,  might  well  ask  if  the  Lord  had  made 
him  a  mere  medicine  to  restore  a  dyspeptic  scholar,  and  had  not  given 
him  a  pleasant  life  of  his  own  in  the  silver  streams.  If  the  fish  were 
not  alive,  angling  would  be  delectable,  but  after  reading  Wordsworth's 
'  Hart-leap  Well '  I  pause  over  the  rod  as  well  as  the  gun,  in  spite  of 
dear  old  Izaak.  But  your  counsels  and  your  admonitions  will  do  the 
boys  good.  As  your  discourse  was  lying  on  my  table,  a  friend  came 
in  whose  hobby  is  political  economy,  and  he  casually  opened  it  on  pago 
21  and  read  your  eulogium  on  his  favorite  science  with  sparkling  eyes, 
and  sat  down  and  copied  the  sentence  and  made  a  memorandum  of  the 
discourse  with  warm  expressions  of  admiration,  and  a  purpose  of  sending 
for  it.  " 

There  is  a  fact  about  this  very  successful  address  at  New- 
Haven  which  it  may  be  well  to  record  for  the  benefit  of  liter- 

194  MEMOIR   OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

ary  institutions.  The  Doctor  felt  his  reception  to  be  very 
chilly,  almost  ice-cold  ;  there  was  a  strange  lack  of  interest 
in  the  orator  of  the  day.  He  had  to  find  his  own  way  about 
town  and  when  he  came  to  the  College  Assembly,  it  presented 
one  of  the  blackest  looking  audiences  to  be  imagined.  There 
was  no  relief  in  the  back-ground,  nothing  but  an  array  of 
sombre  black  coats,  and  these  not  easily  to  be  moved  from 
their  quiet  decorum.  The  President  received  him  with  a 
dignified  bow,  but  not  a  word  of  sympathy  consoled  the  sen- 
sitive heart  of  the  speaker.  He  returned  to  his  hotel,  dis- 
couraged, and  inquired  of  the  clerk  at  what  hour  the  first 
train  in  the  morning  left  the  city.  An  early  hour  being  men- 
tioned, he  said,  ''  Iwish  to  leave  at  thattime,'^  and  speedily 
departed  from  the  land  of  steady  habits  without  having  re- 
ceived the  most  favorable  impression  of  Yankee  hospitality. 
During  one  of  those  years  he  was  suddenly  called  upon 
to  proceed  to  Washington,  in  reference  to  his  favorite  cause 
of  Colonization.  A  Sunday  at  the  Capital  was  quite  sure  to 
make  demands  on  the  popular  preacher,  and  he  caught  up  a 
few  manuscript  sermons  and  put  them  in  his  carpet-bag. 
Invited  to  preach  in  two  churches,  he  found  that  only  one 
of  these  sermons  pleased  him,  which  he  reserved  for  the 
evening.  In  the  morning  he  gave  a  very  simple  and  un- 
pretending discourse,  on  the  "  little  child  that  our  Lord  set 
before  his  disciples  as  a  pattern".  The  minister  of  this 
church,  meeting  him  the  next  day,  complained,  saying,  "  I 
hear  that  last  night  you  thundered  and  lightened  in  the 
Methodist  church  round  the  corner,  but  you  did  not  take 
much  trouble  for  us."  The  Doctor,  having  a  modest  opinion 
of  his  efforts,  could  make  no  defence  ;  but  some  months 
later,  received,  in  an  incidental  way,  a  most  agreeable  com- 
pliment from  a  high  quarter.     A   friend  of  his,  conversing 


with  Justice  McLean,  of  the  Supreme  Court  of  the  United 
States,  said  to  him,  "  Since  all  the  leading  ministers  of  the 
country  come  here,  you  must  have  great  privileges  in  the 
preaching  line  at  Washington.''  "Not  so  much  as  you 
imagine,  they  all  come  with  their  grand  discourses  and 
high-flown  elocution,  but  we  have  little  of  the  simple  gos- 
pel that  edifies.  There  was,  however,  a  man  named  Be- 
thune,  from  Philadelphia,  who  pleased  and  profited  me  very 
much  ;  he  is  a  preacher  of  some  distinction,  but  he  took  for 
his  text,  '  a  little  child,'  and  then  he  sought  to  bring  all  of 
us  statesmen,  judges  and  counsellors,  to  the  position  of 
little  children  before  the  Saviour;  now  that  was  a  sermon 
to  do  a  man's  heart  good." 

Let  preachers  going  to  Washington  gather  wisdom. 
Manifold  engagements  pressed  upon  him,  and  yet  he  found 
time  for  the  labors  of  authorship. 

He  really  did  dispatch  a  large  amount  of  work.  Besides 
the  constant  preparations  necessary  for  a  city  pulpit,  and 
care  for  the  sick,  he  was  engaged  in  extensive  correspon- 
dence with  home  and  foreign  parts.  There  is  a  record  of 
as  many  as  forty-five  letters  Avritten  on  a  single  day.  Then 
he  was  expected  to  speak  on  important  public  occasions ; 
he  was  President  of  the  Pennsylvania  Seamen's  Friend's  So- 
ciety ;  a  leading  oflScer  in  the  Colonization  Society  ;  neither 
did  he  neglect  his  readings  of  the  Greek  and  Latin  Classics; 
he  told  a  friend  "  that,  in  the  course  of  the  winter,  he  had 
tead  through  the  plays  of  Euripides,"  which  this  friend 
being  a  ripe  scholar,  thought  by  itself  a  suflScient  task  for 
the  season.  Racy  lectures  must  occasionally  be  produced  ; 
he  was  a  frequent  contributor  to  Magazines  and  Annuals, 
yet,  in  addition  to  all,  he  was  able  to  get  several  volumes 
through  the  press.     The  first  was  a  book  of  "  Sermons  "  ; 

196  MEMOIR    OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

"  he  yields  to  the  wishes  of  some  friends  ''  in  this  publica- 
tion. "  The  selection  has  been  made  out  of  the  discourses 
preached  by  the  author  from  his  own  pulpit,  with  some  re- 
gard to  variety,  but  principally,  to  the  practical  characters 
of  their  subjects."  He  adds  with  modesty,  "The  prospect 
of  their  being  widely  read,  when  there  are  so  many  better 
books,  is  small ;  yet  the  attempt  to  serve  the  cause  of  our 
beloved  Master  is  pleasant,  and  if  he  smiles  upon  it,  it  will 
be  successful,  not  in  proportion  of  our  talent,  but  of  his 
grace. '^  Mr.  Wm.  H.  Prescott  writes,  "  One  does  not  look 
into  a  volume  of  sermons  for  novelties,  yet  you  put  your  read- 
ers on  trains  of  thoughts  that  are  not  opened  every  day. 
I  have  not  read  any  thing  from  the  pulpit  for  a  long  time 
that  has  pleased  me  so  much,  or  which  I  think  more  calcu- 
lated to  benefit  the  hearers.''  Perhaps  a  more  substantial 
compliment  was  given  by  the  public  in  its  rapid  sale. 
"'You  will  be  pleased,"  he  writes  to  his  mother,  "to  hear 
that  my  book  of  sermons  does  so  well.  There  must  be  an- 
other edition  by  September  at  farthest.  My  '  Fruit  of  the 
Spirit '  sells  steadily  and  well.  My  publishers  say  that 
they  are  now  sure  of  its  being  a  stock  book  ;  which  means 
a  book  for  which  there  will  always  be  a  good  demand." 
In  quick  succession  appears,  "  Early  Lost,  Early  Saved." 
"A  childless  man  himself,"  says  Dr.  Taylor,  "  it  is  some- 
what remarkable,  that  in  this  little  volume  he  has  left  one 
of  the  sweetest  books  of  consolation  for  bereaved  parents, 
founded  upon  an  argument  for  the  salvation  of  infants, 
which  is  at  the  same  time  a  powerful  vindication  of  that 
grand  old  system  of  doctrinal  truth,  taught  by  the  Reformed 
Churches,  which,  as  he  declared  his  conviction,  has  been  so 
often  foully  accused  of  consigning  departed  infants  to  a 
miserable  eternity  ;  but  which  '  affords  the  only  satisfactory 


hope  of  their  salvation,'  which  is  by  free  and  sovereign 
grace  in  Christ/'  Then  followed  "  The  History  of  a  Peni- 
tent ;  a  Guide  for  the  Inquiring,  in  a  Commentary  on  the 
One  Hundred  and  Thirtieth  Psalm."  This  was  also  the  re- 
sult, first,  of  pulpit  exposition,  and  then  of  careful  prepa- 
ration for  the  press,  and  I  need  only  add  that  it  is  admirably 
adapted  to  its  great  design." 

These  substantial  volumes,  while  they  increased  the  rep- 
utation of  the  author,  also  yielded  financial  gain.  He  made 
more  money  from  them  than  from  anything  he  did  in  the 
way  of  book  making.  By  way  of  variety,  we  may  relate 
that  he  was  appointed  Commissioner  of  the  U.  S.  Mint, 
one  of  three  to  attend  the  annual  assay  and  examination 
of  the  afiairs  of  that  branch  of  the  public  service  ;  he  ac- 
cepted, and  says  he  is  "  prepared  not  to  be  surprised  at  the 
offer  of  a  large  salary  as  special  ambassador  to  the  Universi- 
ty of  Timbuctoo."  This  important  Mint  function  he  after- 
wards referred  to  on  a  great  public  occasion.  '•'  I  once," 
he  says,  "held  an  ofiice  under  the  general  government,  and 
I  was  offered  another.  The  other  I  did  not  like,  the  first  I 
did.  It  kept  me  five  hours,  and  I  was  allowed  my  expenses 
as  emolument,  but  as  there  was  no  omnibus  riding  in  that 
direction,  I  did  not  get  sixpence."  On  a  visit  to  Boston, 
he  quite  startled  the  audience  by  a  criticism  on  their  book 
of  praise.     In  giving  out  the  Hymn,  beginning, 

"  There  is  a  fountain  filled  with  blood  " 

he  found  that  the  last  verse  had   been    altered   and   read 
thus  : 

"And  when  this  feeble  stammering  tongue 
Lies  silent  in  the  grave, 
Then  in  a  nobler  sweeter  song, 
I'll  sing  thy  power  to  save." 

198  MExMOIR    OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.    D. 

'^  I  should  like  to  know,"  he  sternly  said,  "  who  has  had 
the  presumption  to  alter  Cowper's  Hymn  ;  the  choir  will 
please  sing  the  hymn  as  the  poet  wrote  it." 

About  the  close  of  1846,  he  received  from  President 
Polk  the  appointment  of  Chaplain,  to  the  Military  Academy 
at  West  Point,  and  there  is  much  proof  of  his  popularity  at 
the  White  House.  The  office,  although  possessing  many 
advantages,  could  not  seduce  him  from  his  pastoral  work. 
A  letter  from  Littell,  of  the  "  Living  Age,"  embodies  a  very 
neat  compliment  to  Dr.  Bethune,  calling  his  letters  a  "  brook 
by  the  way.  I  wish  you  would  write  to  me  at  any  time 
when  you  see  any  thing  which  you  would  especially  like  to 
see  in  the  Living  Age  :  I  wish  to  put  myself  into  magnetic 
communication  with  as  much  intellect  and  heart  as  I  can, 
for  the  good  of  the  public.  I  hope  this  plea  may  get  me  a 
line  from  you  now  and  then." 

ART   OF   ANGLING.  199 



In  the  year  1846,  tlie  new  edition  of  Izaak  Walton's  Com- 
plete Angler,  appeared  with  the  Instructions  of  Cotton,  and, 
as  says  the  preface,  "  with  copious  notes,  for  the  most  part 
original ;  a  bibliographical  preface  giving  an  account  of 
fishing  and  fishing  books,  from  the  earliest  antiquity  to  the 
time  of  Walton,  and  a  notice  of  Cotton  and  his  writings,  to 
which  he  added  an  appendix,  including  illustrative  ballads, 
music,  papers  on  American  fishing,  and  the  most  complete 
catalogue  of  books  on  angling  ever  printed." 

"For  such  an  undertaking,"  writes  Dr.  Dunglison,  ''no 
one  could  have  been  better  qualified  and  prepared.  Fond 
of  the  sport  to  enthusiasm,  perfectly  acquainted  with  his 
authors,  and  possessed  of  an  admirable  piscatorial  library, 
diligently  accumulated  at  considerable  expense,*  he  brought 
to  the  subject  an  amount  of  familiar  knowledge,  and  oppor- 
tunities for  research,  possessed  b}^  few,  if  by  any,  in  this 
country.  The  references,  with  rare  exceptions,  were  veri- 
fied by  his  own  examination,  whilst  for  the  literary  annota- 
tions he  held  himself  responsible.  Many  of  these,  espec- 
ially of  a  philological  character,  were  the  subjects  of 
occasional  playful,  but  delightful  and  profitable  correspond- 

*  The  number  of  works  that  he  had  collected  on  fishing  and  kindred  topics, 
composed  about  seven  hundred  volumes,  and  was  probably  the  most  perfect  collec- 
tion of  the  kind  ia  the  world. 

200  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

ence  between  the  writer  of  this  notice  and  himself,  and  the 
whole  work  affords  abundant  evidence  of  rare  learning,  and 
ample  practical  knowledge/' 

That  much  time  and  pains  must  have  been  given  to  the 
above  work  is  evident,  and  when  it  was  objected  that  this 
occupation  interfered  with  the  duties  of  his  sacred  office, 
the  doctor  i-eplied  that  he  had  accomplished  it  at  odd 
seasons,  while  other  people  would  have  been  looking  out 
of  their  windows.  The  following  bit  of  erudition  is  a 
specimen  of  the  labor  expended  on  his  references. 

"  New  York,  3Iarch  19,  1847. 

Rev.  and  dear  Sir  :  The  passage  of  Aristotle  to  which  you  refer, 
does  not  occur  in  any  part  of  his  extant  writings.  Heyne  alludes  to 
it  in  his  note  on  Iliad,  xxiv,  81.,  but  merely  mentions  Plutarch  as  his  au- 
thority. If  Heyne  could  not  find  it,  we  may  be  ■^'^ry  sure  that  it  has 
not  come  down  to  us.  Ileyne's  words  are  as  follows :  '  Melior  inter- 
pretatio  de  cornu  bovino  Aristoteli  deberi  discimus  ex  Plutarcho,  de 
Sollert.  Animal,  p.  976,  ubi  ejus  auctoritate  refellit  acceptionem  de 
pilis  bovinis  e  quibus  hamum  contextum  esse  putarint  alii.' 

The  passage  of  Plutarch  occurs  in  the  24:th  chapter  of  the  treatise  de 
Sollert.  Animal.,  (vol.  iv.  part  ii  ,  p.  961,  seq.  of  Wyttenbach's  edition  of 
the  Moralia ;  and  vol.  x.,  p.  65,  seq,  of  Reiske's  edition  of  the  entire  works) 
and  in  it,  after  giving  the  opinion  of  some,  that  Kspa^  in  the  passage  of 
Homer,  means  rpixa,  and  that  the  reference  is  to  hair  line,  he  quotes  the 
more  correct  explanation  of  Aristotle.  According  to  the  old  Stagyrite, 
a  small  horn  (^Kepdnov)  was  put  around  the  line  just  above  the  hook,  to 
prevent  the  fish  from  biting  it  off.     This  solves  the  mystery.    Plutarch's 

words  are  as  follows:  ' ApioTOrEA/jj  6i  cpricn  iir)6lv  h  tovtois  XeyeaS-ai  au<pdv  i) 
nepiTTOV,  dXXa  rw  ovri  KspaTiuv  wepiTi^ea^ai  npo  tov  dyKicTpov  irefti  Trjv  bpfiidi/,  tircna 
TTpoi  dWo  tpxoiievoi  6:ea^L0V(xi. 

It  appears  to  me  that  Heyne  has  made  a  slip  in  his  note,  and  that  for 
^ hamum'  he  ought  to  have  written  ^ funicidum,'  for  the  Greek  of  Plu- 
tarch is,  ^pi^lv  oiovrai  rrpos  rag  bpp.iag  %p?jio-Sai  ruvi  TraXaiovg.     This,  however, 

does  not  affect  the  main  point. 

With  many  thanks  for  your  kind  opinion  of  your  old  friend,  anl  for 

Walton's  complete  angler.       201 

your  allowing  me  to  claim  some  little  part  of  the  early  training  of  one 
as  eminent  as  yourself, 

I  remain, very  truly,  &c,, 

Chas.  Aktuon. 
Rev.  Dr.  Bbthune,  Philadelphia." 

For  the  use  that  is  made  of  this  morsel  of  scholarship,  see 
the  Bibliograjjhical  preface  to  the  Complete  Angler,  p.  ix. 

On  the  same  subject  Dr.  Bethune  wrote  to  Charles 
Lanman  Esq.,  Librarian  at  Washington  ; 

"The  truth  is,  I  am  very  modest  as  an  angler,  but  have  exerted 
myself  to  the  utmost  in  the  literary  illustration  of  our  father's  delightful 
book.  As  I  wrote  Mr.  Duyckinck,  it  is  impossible  to  make  a  fishing- 
hook,  especially  an  American  fishing-book,  of  Walton.  Permit  me  to 
say,  that,  though  I  am  far  from  being  ashamed  of  the  gentle  art,  I  do 
not  wish  to  have  my  name  formally  associated  with  the  book,  as  it  .will 
not  appear  on  the  title  page,  and  whatever  comments  are  made  on  the 
American  edition,  (particularly  as  to  my  part  of  it)  I  should  like  them 
confined  to  the  literary  character.  You  will  understand  my  reason  for 
this.  My  library  is  very  good,  piscatorially  the  best  in  the  country, 
and  my  notes  have  been  accumulating  for  years." 

This  edition  of  Walton  is  conceded  in  England,  as  well 
as  in  this  country,  to  be  the  best  one  issued. 

The  sport  of  angling  was  a  great  aid  to  him  in  getting 
through  his  year's  work.  He  always  had  an  amusement  to 
turn  to  ;  the  course  of  his  thoughts  was  completely  changed, 
the  mind  relaxed,  and  the  body  restrung.  We  can  give  the 
testimony  of  eye-witnesses  to  the  intense  bodily  and  spirit- 
ual enjoyment,  which  the  return  of  the  fishing  season 
always  provided  for  him.  We  say  spiritual,  for  who  does 
not  know  how  a  pleasant  book  is  enhanced  by  green  fields 
and  summer  floods  ;  and  our  angler  appears  to  have  had 
a  small  library  in  his  head.  We  quote  the  words  of  his 
companion,  Rev.  Joshua  Cooke. 

202  3IEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.    D. 

"  Dr.  Bethune  was  an  ardent  lover  of  Nature. 

He  was  not  a  worshipper  of  Nature.  He  had  none  of  that  regard  for 
it  which  some  of  our  day  seem  disposed  to  nurse  up  into  idolatry;  at 
least,  into  a  feeling  that  if  Nature  be  not  divine,  they  know  nothing 
more  so.  Of  that  religion  which,  to  the  call  of  a  sinning  man  for  bread 
of  the  soul,  would  offer  Nature,  give  him  a  stone,  our  honored  friend 
had  not  an  element. 

But  Nature,  as  the  beautiful  and  glorious  handiwork  of  One  whom  he 
loved  better  than  Nature;  and  as  created,  preserved,  multiplied  into 
her  manifold  forms,  expressly  for  the  honor  of  His  name,  in  tlie 
happiness  of  His  creatures :  Nature,  as  such,  I  have  never  seen  more 
fervently  loved,  and  more  eagerly  resorted  to,  than  by  Dr.  Bethune. 
It  was  not  as  her  processes  are  developed  under  human  training  that 
he  sought  her,  but  as  she  exists  in  the  forms  and  sounds  of  the  perfect 
wilderness.  And  he  sought  them  there  in  yearly  pilgrimages,  far  from 
the  haunts  of  men  ;  associating  with  his  enjoyment  of  wood  and  stream 
that  of  his  favorite  recreation,  angling.  There,  his  tent  pitched,  his 
camp-fire  kindled ;  his  implements  of  recreation  around  liim ;  and 
what  was  more  than  all  to  him,  with  genial  companions,  he  would 
look  forth  on  wood,  and  stream,  and  lake,  with  a  happiness  known 
only  to  the  lover  of  Nature ;  and  which,  in  him,  none  will  ever  forget 
who  had  the  happiness  of  seeing  him  there.  And,  as  he  felt  deeply,  so 
he  would  speak  eloquently  of  the  delightful  calm,  the  unbroken  repose; 
the  freshness  of  all,  as  if  just  from  the  divine  hand;  and  of  the  won- 
drous change  in  all  this,  from  the  excitements  and  conventionalities  of 
life  among  men.  lie  did  not  dislike  men ;  he  did  not  dislike  society. 
On  the  contrary,  he  had  a  peculiar  interest  in  being  among  those  to 
whom  he  could  listen  with  pleasure,  and  by  whom  he  could  be  himself 
heard.  And  it  was  the  one  desire  of  his  life  to  preach  the  gospel. 
This,  also,  made  the  concourse  of  men  welcome  to  him,  for  he  could 
discharge  his  office,  and  hope  to  save  some. 

But,  after  months  of  duty,  in  its  routine ;  and,  especially,  if  there 
had  been  trial  of  feeling,  or  controversy,  he  repaired  to  the  stream  and 
forest  as  a  refuge  and  rest  from  excitement ;  and  as  one  who  found  in 
their  quiet,  gentle,  changeless  beauty,  a  balm.  He  has  embodied  this 
feeling  in  a  few  of  his  own  beautiful  lines,  now  lying  by  me. 

POEM.  203 

•  Oh,  for  the  rush  of  our  darling  stream,      . 

With  its  strips  of  virgin  meadow ; 
For  the  morning  beam,  and  the  evening  gleam, 

Through  the  deep  forest  shadow  ! 
For  our  dovelike  tent,  with  white  wings  bent, 

To  shield  us  from  the  weather. 
Where  we  make  our  bed,  of  hemlock  spread. 

And  sleep  in  peace  together. 

Oh,  for  the  pure  and  sinless  wild, 

Far  from  the  city's  pother. 
Where  the  spirit  mild  of  Nature's  child. 

On  the  breast  of  his  holy  mother, 
In  the  silence  sweet,  may  hear  the  beat 

Of  her  loving  heart  and  tender ; 
Nor  wish  to  change  the  greenwood  range 

For  worldly  pomp  and  splendor ! 

Oh,  for  the  laugh  of  the  merry  loon ! 

For  the  chant  of  the  fearless  thrushes  1 
Who  pipe  their  tune  to  sun  and  moon. 

In  clear  and  liquid  gushes  ! 
For  the  roar  of  floods,  and  the  echoing  woods, 

And  the  whisperings,  above  us. 
Of  the  twilight  breeze,  thro'  the  trembling  trees  — 

Like  words  of  those  that  love  us  ! ' 

To  write  such  lines,  one  must  not  only  have  looked  upon  such  scenes, 
but  have  looked  with  the  most  hearty  appreciation,  and  the  most  entire 
enjoyment.  His  feelings  were  so  much  in  unison  with  everything 
around  him,  that  he  counted  himself  but  as  a  part  of  the  scene,  or  as  a 
child  visiting  his  mother.  How  beautifully  has  he  expressed  this  in  the 
second  of  the  above  stanzas  !  All,  who  have  spent  nights  in  the  wilder- 
ness, 'making  their  bed  of  hemlock  spread,'  will  remember  how,  in  the 
stillness  so  weird  and  solemn,  one's  own  pulsation  becomes,  not  only  to 
fancy,  but  almost  to  conviction,  the  throbbing  of  the  earth  he  lies  on. 
And  so, 

204  MEMOIR   OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

'  The  spirit  mild  of  nature's  child, 

On  the  breast  of  his  holy  mother, 

In  the  silence  sweet,  may  hear  the  beat 

Of  lier  loving  heart  and  tender.* 

His  unconsciously  delicate  sense  and  discrimination  were  very 
apparent  in  his  relish  for  line  poetry.  It  led  him  not  only  to  produce 
much  himself  that  was  fine,  but  still  more  to  enjoy  the  productions  of 
or,hers,  and  to  love  the  very  man  for  the  thing  he  had  produced.  When 
he  met  with  a  piece  where  true  poetical  conception  was  expressed  in 
becoming  form  and  harmony,  it  was,  with  him,  as  when  a  diver  finds  a 
pearl.  Vv^ith  what  enthusiasm  and  happy  rendering,  would  he  repeat 
such  pieces  as  the  following,  from  the  Englishman  Stoddart : 

'Oh,  waken  winds,  waken,  the  waters  are  still ; 
And  the  sunhght,  in  silence,  reclines  on  the  hill ; 
And  the  angler  is  waiting  beside  the  green  springs, 
For  the  low,  welcome  sound  of  your  wandering  wings. 

His  rod  lies  beside  him ;  his  tackle's  unfreed ; 
And  his  withe- woven  pannier  is  flung  on  the  mead ; 
And  he  looks  on  the  lake,  through  its  fane  of  green  trees. 
And  sighs  for  the  curl  of  the  soft  southern  breeze. 

Calm-bound  is  the  form  of  the  water-bird  there ; 
And  the  spear  of  the  rush  stands  erect  in  the  air ; 
And  the  dragon-fly  roams  o'er  the  lily  beds  gay, 
Where  basks  the  bold  pike  in  the  sun-smitten  bay. 

Oh,  waken,  winds,  waken,  wherever  asleep ! 

On  the  cloud,  in  the  mountain,  or  down  in  the  deep ! 

The  angler  is  waiting  beside  the  green  springs 

For  the  low,  whispering  sound  of  your  wandering  wings.' 

I  think  I  see  him  now,  as  seated  under  the  shade  of  our  pleasant 
woodland  home,  and  looking  out  on  the  little  lake,  so  in  keeping  with  the 
above  piece,  he  would  dwell  on  its  fine  alliteration  and  musical  flow ; 
but  still  more,  on  its  exquisite  pencilling  of  natural  features.  *  Don't 
you  see' ,  he  would  say,  '  the  impatience  of  the  man  as  he  looks  at  the 

LOVE    OF   NATURE.  205 

glare  of  the  sun,  and  the  mirror-like  surface,  and  knows  that  it  would 
he  as  useless  to  make  a  cast  of  his  fly  before  the  eagle-eyed  trout, 
under  these  conditions,  as  to  make  it  into  the  woods  behind  him.  And 
tben,  tlie  water  bird,  the  loon,  or  the  diver,  far  out  on  the  water  ;  really 
asleep,  but  seemingly  unable  to  stir  till  wind  or  wave  should  move ; 
calm-hoiind.  And  the  rush' ;  and  here  his  finger,  graceful  and  flexible 
as  the  rush  itself,  would  shoot  upward ;  '  the  rush,  the  most  pliant  and 
yielding  of  all  things,  now  upright  as  the  bole  of  the  pine,  so  still  is  the 
air.  And  the  sun-smitten  bay;  the  heat  pouring  down  as  a  molten 
substance,  and  holding  the  helpless  waters  waveless  as  under  pressure 
of  a  burden ! ' 

He  was  equally  sensitive  to  the  devotional  and  the  sublime.  We  had 
spent  a  Sabbath  evening,  four  of  us,  in  one  of  the  tents,  from  dusk  till 
near  midnight,  in  delightful  conversation  on  religion,  and  religious  ex- 
perience, when  one  of  the  party,  alluding  to  the  day,  asked  the  doctor, 
if  he  remembered  the  fine  lines  of  Spenser  ; 

'  Then  'gan  I  think  on  that  which  Nature  said 
Of  that  same  time  when  no  more  change  shall  be ; 
But  stedfast  rest  of  all  things,  firmly  fixed 
Upon  the  pillours  of  Eternitie ; 
For  all  that  moveth  doth  in  change  delight ; 
But  thenceforth  all  shall  rest  eternally 
With  Him,  that  is  the  God  of  Sabbaoth  hight. 
Of  that  great  Sabbaoth,  God,  grant  me  that 
Sabbath's  sight.' 

The  Doctor  was  visibly  afiected.  He  arose,  and  said,  '  Where  did 
you  find  those  lines  ?  '  'In  the  opening  of  the  unfinished  Canto  of  the 
Eaerie  Queen.'  '  Beautiful,  beautiful,'  said  he ;  *  it  is  strange  I  never 
met  with  them ! '  And  he  retired  to  his  own  tent,  evidently  filled,  ear 
and  heart,  with  the  majestic  numbers  and  sublime  prayer  of  the  poet. 

And  so  he  would  pass,  to  and  fro,  among  those  beautiful  little  lakes 
of  Canada,  and  up  and  down  the  clear,  pebbly,  forest-shaded  brooks  of 
Maine,  his  recreation,  his  exercise,  and  his  few  chosen  friends  of  like 
mind  in  these  things,  his  companions.  So  deep  was  his  regard  for  those 
remote  and  untainted  homes  in  the  wilderness,  that  one  might  almost 
feel  that  their  regard  was  responsive ;  and  that  it  would  hardly  be  fancy 

206  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,   D.  D. 

to  apply  to  him,  in  death,  the  lines  he  so  thrillingly  applied  in  public  to 
our  great  painter  of  Nature,  Cooper : 

'  Call  it  not  vain :  —  they  do  not  err. 

Who  say,  that  when  the  Poet  dies. 

Mute  Nature  mourns  her  worshipper, 

And  celebrates  his  obsequies  ! 

Who  say,  tall  cliff  and  cavern  lone 

For  the  departed  bard  make  moan ; 

Through  his  loved  groves  that  breezes  sigh, 

And  oaks,  in  deeper  groan  reply ; 

And  rivers  teach  their  rushing  wave 

To  murmur  dirges  round  his  grave. 

Not  that,  in  sooth,  o'er  mortal  urn. 

These  things  inanimate  can  mourn; 

But  that  the  stream,  the  wood,  the  gale, 

Are  vocal  with  the  plaintive  wail 

Of  those,  who,  else  forgotten  long, 

Lived  in  the  poet's  faithful  song, 

And,  with  the  poet's  parting  breath, 

Whose  memory  feels  a  second  death, 

All  mourn  the  minstrel's  harp  unstrung 

Their  name  unknown,  their  praise  unsung.' 
Certainly  I  was  startled,  on  revisiting  one  of  those  favored  spots,  after 
he  had  left  for  home,  by  the  vividness  of  association  which  made  his 
presence  there,  hardly  fanciful ;  and  which  gave  to  each  tree,  and  shrub, 
and  even  to  the  ashes  of  the  forsaken  camp-fire,  the  aspect  of  a  sentient 

But  all  this,  with  Dr.  Bethune,  was  without  the  least  laying  aside  of 
the  proprieties  of  his  calling,  whether  as  minister  or  as  Christian.  Rude 
boatmen  of  the  St.  Lawrence,  speak  to  this  day  of  his  Christian  interest 
and  benevolent  action  on  their  behalf,  when  visiting  their  vicinity ;  and, 
on  the  extreme  confines  of  the  Canadian  wilderness,  men  tell  feelingly 
of  the  tenderness,  the  simplicity,  the  earnestness  of  his  prayers.  Fre- 
quently, he  would  arise  quietly  from  our  little  circle  about  the  fire,  and 
take  his  way  to  the  depths  of  the  forest.  We  knew  well  that  he  had 
gone  into  solitude  for  that  communion  with  his  Saviour,  without  which 


no  scenes  woi*e  lovely,  and  no  clay  was  bright.  The  escape  from  social 
pressure  and  conventionality  was,  with  him,  no  fliglit  to  lawlessness. 
]n  the  change  of  earllily  scene,  he  souglit  no  change  in  his  Redeemer's 
presence  and  fellowship.  The  God  of  Nature  was  the  God  of  Kederap- 
tion ;  and,  a  lover  of  Nature,  he  made  his  enjoyment  of  its  scenes  and 
pleasures,  one  with  his  service  of  that  Lord  of  all,  who  had  bought  him 
with  His  own  blood." 

We  have  mentioned  the  "plea  for  study,"  and  a  page 
from  that  vigorous  discourse  will  put  on  record  our  minis- 
ter's feeling  for  angling,  and  his  authorities  for  -believing 
in  its  hygienic  efficacy. 

"A   catalogue   of  men,"   he   says,   "illustrious   in   every 
department  of  knowledge,  who  have  refreshed  themselves 
for  further  useful  toil  by  the  'gentle  art,'  as  its  admirers 
delight  to  call  it,  would  be  very  long  ;  and  those  who  would 
charge  them  with  trifling,  perhaps  worse,  might,  with  some 
modesty  reconsider  a   censure   which  must  include   Izaak 
Walton,  the  pious  biographer  of  pious  men  ;  Dryden,  Thomp- 
son, Wordsworth,  and  many  more  among  the  poets ;  Paley, 
Wollaston,   and  Nowell  among  theologians ;   Henry  Mac- 
kenzie (the  man  of  feeling),  and  professor  Wilson  the  poet- 
scholar    and    essayist;    Sir    Humphrey    Davy,    author    of 
Salmonia ;  Emmerson  the  geometrician,  Rennie  the  zoologist, 
Chantrey  the   sculptor,  and  a  host   of  others,  who   prove 
that  such  a  taste  is  not  inconsistent  with  religion,  genius, 
industry,  or  usefulness  to  mankind.     It  has  been  remarked 
that  they  who  avail  themselves  of  this  exercise  moderately, 
(for,  as  one  says,  Make  not  a  profession  of  a  recreation  lest 
it  should  bring  a  cross  wish  on  the  same)  and  are  temperate, 
attain  generally  an  unusual  age.     Henry  Jenkins  lived  to 
a  hundred  and  sixty-nine  years,  and  angled  when  a  score 
past  his  century.     Walton  died  upwards  of  nmety ;  Nowell 
at  ninety-five  ;  and  Mackenzie  at  eighty-six.     Such  frequent 

208  MEMOIR   OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

instances  of  longevity  among  anglers,  says  a  writer  on  the 
subject,  cannot  have  been  from  accident  or  from  their 
having  originally  stronger  stamina  than  other  mortals. 
Their  pursuits  by  the  side  of  running  streams  whose  motion 
imparts  increased  vitality  to  the  air,  their  exercise  regular 
without  being  violent,  and  that  composure  of  the  mind  so 
necessary  to  the  health  of  the  body  to  which  this  amuse- 
ment so  materially  contributes,  must  all  have  had  an  in- 
fluence uj)on  their  physical  constitution,  the  effect  of  which 
is  seen  in  the  duration  of  then-  lives." 

Mr.  Macomber,  in  the  following  account,  proves  that  the 
apostolic  art  has  its  sorrows  as  well  as  its  joys. 

"  Dr.  Betliune  was  not  one  of  those  who  understand  the  art  of  econo- 
mizing by  the  profession  of  a  'rough-and-tumble'  suit  of  clothing, 
fitted  to  sucli  excursions ;  and,  as  the  judicious  charities  of  his  excellent 
wife  always  found  use  for  the  half-worn  garments  of  the  doctor,  and  as 
he  generally  purchased  the  best,  the  natural  result  was,  that  he  was  a 
well-dressed  man,  and  fine  broadcloth,  and  plenty  of  it,  went  a  fishing 
on  all  occasions  when  the  wearer  did.  But  let  not  one  infer  that  the 
doctor  was  careful  of  his  dress  on  such  occasions.  On  the  contrary, 
his  black  broadcloth  was  totally  unheeded,  and  mud  and  water  were 
disregarded,  where  trout  was  plenty. 

On  one  of  these  trips,  while  whipping  a  fine  mountain  stream  in  the 
wilds  of  Pennsylvania,  he  with  a  companion  had  stopped  at  noon  to 
lunch,  and,  while  doing  so,  the  doctor  discovered  ahead,  a  deep  pool 
overshadowed  with  lofty  trees  and  almost  shut  out  from  the  sun-light, 
clear  quiet  and  unvisited,  the  very  spot  to  make  glad  the  heart  of  an 
angler.  He,  who  was  a  light  eater,  (his  portly  person,  and  the  general 
belief  to  the  contrary  notwithstanding,)  was  quickly  satisfied,  and 
leaving  his  friend  to  finish  his  lunch  and  '  pack  up,'  he  began,  tackle  in 
hand,  to  approach  the  pool.  With  wary  and  cautious  steps  he  made  his 
way  through  the  thick  underbrush  which  bordered  the  stream,  until  to 
his  joy  he  discovered  a  fallen  tree,  one  end  buried  in  the  soft  earth,  and 
the  other  elevated  quite  high  directly  above  the  quiet  pool.  To  *  take 
to  the  tree,'  and  quietly  work  his  way  along  to  the  elevated  extremity, 

MISHAPS.  209 

was  but  the  work  of  a  few  moments,  for  the  portly,  and  now  somewhat 
excited  sportsman.  To  say  truth,  he  had  not  had  *  good  luck '  durhig 
the  morning.  His  brass-bound  joint  rod,  patent  self-winding  reel,  silk- 
laid  casting  line,  and  superb '  English  hackle,'  had  been  sadly  out  of  place 
iu  fishing  this  narrow,  swift,  and  brush-fringed  mountain  stream,  and 
he  had  been  fairly  beaten  at  trouting,  by  his  less  skilled  friend  with 
plain  cut  pole,  short  linen  line,  and  stump-grub.  But  here  was  a 
chance,  a  glorious  chance,  to  show  his  friend  the  beauties  of  the  science 
of  angling  —  the  doctor  had  already  commenced  his  revision  of  the 
works  of  Izaak  "Walton,  —  and  he  challenged  the  attention  of  his  com- 
panion to  a  beautiful  '  cast '  over  that  broad,  silent  pool.  The  tree  on 
which  the  doctor  stood,  although  large,  and  covered  with  bark  and  moss, 
having  long  been  prostrate  in  its  cozy  bed,  was  rotten  to  its  very  core, 
and,  just  as  he  straightened  himself  for  his  'beautiful  cast,'  it  broke 
square  olf  behind  him,  and  doctor,  broadcloth,  and  fishing  tackle,  fell 
ten  feet  into  the  pool,  up  to  his  neck  in  the  '  still  water,'  now  foaming 
with  twenty  stone  weight  of  clerical  humanity.  The  crash  of  the  log 
and  the  souse  of  the  doctor,  brought  the  startled  friend  to  his  assist- 
ance, with  the  exclamation,  *  Are  you  hurt  ? '  '  No,'  replied  the  im- 
mersed doctor,  coolly  shaking  the  water  from  his  dripping  locks,  '  but 
I  've  frightened  every  fish  out  of  this  creek  I '  " 

On  one  occasion,  while  fishing  in  lake  Champlain,  the 
Doctor  fell  from  a  boat,  and  a  change  of  apparel  became 
necessary.  Nothing  could  be  found  for  the  emergency  but 
an  English  dragoon's  scarlet  jacket.  When  the  steamer 
passed,  those  who  could  recognize  his  lineaments  would 
have  seen  his  dignified  episcopacy  ensconced  in  a  glittering 
garment  better  fitted  for  the  Pope  of  Rome  than  the  staid 
habits  of  a  Protestant  minister.  Here  is  another  story  not 
altogether  destitute  of  point : 

'♦  In  the  month  of  August,  1849,  the  doctor  had  determined  to  give 
himself  a  little  relaxation  from  his  clerical  duties,  and  in  company  with 
his  friend  L.,  an  excellent  young  man,  and  member  of  his  church,  they 
set  their  faces  towards  the  mountains  of  Pennsylvania,  to  have  a  bit  of 
angling.  Arriving  at  H.  they  found  that  Mr.  J.I.,  a  resident  of  H.,  who 

210  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUXE,    D.  D. 

had  agreed  to  accompany  them,  had  not  received  the  Doctor's  note 
announcing  their  coming,  and  had  left  for  New  York. 

Not  wiUing  to  lose  the  fine  weather,  they  procured  a  conveyance,  and 
although  strangers  to  the  roads  and  streams,  found  themselves  at  night, 
after  a  fatiguing  day's  ride,  at  the  quiet  tavern  of  Elder  S.,  situated  in 
a  romantic  gorge  of  one  of  the  coal  mountains  of  Pennsylvania.  The 
Elder,  an  old  acquaintance  of  Mr.  M.'s,  but  entirely  unknown  to  the 
Doctor  and  his  friend,  was  unremitting  in  his  attentions  to  his  guests, 
and  their  creature  comforts ;  and  as  they  had  explained  their  disappoint- 
ment in  not  meeting  Mr.  M.,  who  was  to  have  been  their  guide,  he 
offered  to  furnish  a  vehicle  and  accompany  them  the  next  day  to  the 
trout  stream,  up  the  mountain.  But  the  good  Elder,  once  a  fast  man 
himself,  had  long  ago  abandoned  not  only  '  poker '  and  '  brag,'  but  also 
the  *  rifle '  and  the  '  rod,'  and  his  knowledge  of  the  whereabouts  of  the 
best  trout  holes,  was  extremely  limited.  He  dragged  his  guests  up 
steep  mountains  and  down  deep  vales  ;  sometimes  Ms  grey  would  get 
fairly  stuck  in  a  mud  hole ;  and  to  extricate  the  rickety  *  carryall '  from 
the  mire,  all  hands  must  alight  and,  up  to  their  knees  in  water,  pull  the 
old  horse  and  wagon  out  on  to  dry  land.  But  Dr.  Bethune,  whose  good 
humor  and  patience  never  deserted  him,  was  always  ready  with  his 
broad  shoulder  to  lift  away,  and  the  conveyance  was  soon  under  weigh 
again.  But  they  caught  more  ducks  than  trout,  and  late  at  night 
brought  home  more  mud  than  fish.  It  was  one  of  Dr.  Bethune's 
peculiarities  to  travel  about  on  these  excursions  incog  when  he  could  do 
so,  and  as  his  friend  L.  had,  from  the  time  of  their  arrival,  only  desig- 
nated him  as  the  *  Doctor,'  Elder  S.  had  naturally  come  to  the  conclusion 
that  he  was  some  jolly  medical  man  from  Philadelphia,  but  had  not  the 
face  fairly  to  ask  his  name.  He  was  however  delighted  with  him  as  a 
companion,  quickly  abbreviated  the  '  Doctor '  into  '  Doc.,'  and,  often 
slapping  him  on  the  back,  would  exclaim,  '  That 's  it  Doc,  give  us 
another  lift.' 

When  the  labours  and  disappointments  of  day  had  ended,  and  clean 
water  and  a  good  supper  (for  Mrs.  S.  was  famous  for  her  cookery)  had 
set  all  to  rights  again,  the  old  Elder  felt  bound  to  express  to  his  guests 
his  satisfaction  on  one  point.  '  Now,'  said  he,  '  gentlemen,  we've  had  a 
hard  time  to-day,  but  through  all  the  upsetting,  sticking  in  the  mud- 
holes,  losing  our  way,  and  catching  no  fish,  I  am  much  gratified  to  say, 
I  haven't  heard  either  of  you  swear  a  single  word.  We  have  a  prayer- 
meeting  to-night,  can't  one  of  you  do  the  singing  ? '  " 

THE    STUDY    POliTRAIT.  211 

As  we  write,  an  excellent  likeness  of  Dr.  Bethune  looks 
down  npon  us  from  the  wall  ;  it  is  a  photograph,  taken  a  few 
years  before  his  death,  under  the  following  circumstances. 
He  was  arranging  to  start  for  one  of  his  vacations,  and  in 
expectation  of  its  relief  and  pleasure,  was  in  one  of  his 
happiest  moods,  when  Dr.  Francis  Vinton,  of  New  York, 
entered  his  study.  The  Doctor  has  been  kind  enough  to  re- 
late the  incident : 

"  Trinity  Church,  New  York,  September  20,  1867. 

My  Dear  Dr.  Van  Nest  :  One  pleasant  morning  in  the  autnmn  of 
1853,  I  was  ushered  upstairs  to  Dr.  Bethune's  Library  Study.  In  re- 
sponse to  my  knock  at  the  door,  I  heard  his  voice,  rather  bluffly,  bid- 
ding the  intruder  to  '  Come  in.' 

On  opening  the  door,  the  scene,  pictured  in  the  photograph,  to  wliich 
you  allude  in  your  letter,  presented  itself  to  my  eyes. 

I  stood  still,  wliile  the  Doctor,  with  pen  in  hand,  and  surrounded  with 
his  folios,  looked  up,  with  an  expression,  first  of  annoyance,  but  melting 
into  a  sweet  smile,  wherewith  he  welcomed  me. 

*A  boon,  a  boon,  my  lord,'  said  I,  jocosely. 

'Come  in,  come  in,  take  a  chair  ;  I  am  delighted  to  see  you,' he  re- 

'A  boon,'  I  repeated.     '  First  grant  my  request.' 

*  Granted,  granted.     What  is  it  ?  ' 

'  Let  us  have  your  photograph  for  the  club,  just  as  I  see  you  now.' 

And  then  he  broke  out  into  his  cheering  laugh  at  the  singular  petition, 
a  laugh  that  was  so  hearty,  so  contagious,  that  we  both  indulged  in  it. 

After  some  coquetting  with  his  reluctance  to  appear  in  his  study  cos- 
tume, and  the  surroundings  of  books,  and  creel,  and  fishing  rods,  he  fell 
back  on  his  rash  promise  and  consented  ;  provided  i\\aX  the  artist  should 
destroy  the  negative  after  printing  enough  of  the  photographs  to  dis- 
tribute among  the  club,  and  a  few  other  intimates. 

The  photograph  of  '  Dr.  Bethune  in  his  Study,'  had  this  origin ;  and 
if  the  story  shall  enrich  your  memoirs,  it  will  gratify  me  to  be  associated 
in  its  pages,  with  that  noble  man.  *  We  shall  ne'er  look  upon  Ms  like 
again.'  Yours  faithfully, 

Francis  Vinton." 

212  MJEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

There  he  sits  in  his  habit  as  he  lived,  the  learned-looking 
cap,  gold  spectacles,  and  easy  morning  gown,  the  ponder- 
ous authority  he  is  in  the  act  of  citing  on  the  table  before 
him,  the  others  whose  turn  is  to  come,  piled  up  on  the  floor ; 
"  his  orthodox  pipe,^'  leans  against  the  table,  the  im? 
plements  of  his  well-beloved  sport  adorn  the  walls,  and 
the  man's  very  look,  at  once  humorous  and  serene,  greets 
us  as  we  turn  towards  it.  We  owe  many  a  fervid  page, 
and  many  a  burst  of  eloquence,  which  there  was,  alas,  no 
short-hand  writer  to  record,  to  that  same  creel  and  rod, 
for  they  kept  his  heart  young  and  his  body  manageable. 

The  Piseco  Trout  Club  was  the  name  given  to  a  confra- 
ternity of  gentlemen,  whose  annual  habit  it  was  to  repair 
to  the  north  of  New  York,  with  the  full  intention  of  catch- 
ing and  killing  as  many  trout  as  they  could.  Their  meet- 
ings were  genial  and  jovial ;  a  "  Report  '^  was  made  of  the 
devastation  they  had  caused  each  year,  and  it  is  fair  to  con- 
clude that  much  provision  was  consumed.  Without  allow- 
ing ourselves  to  be  stupefied  with  amazement  at  the  figures 
which  represent  their  success,  we  may  say  that  the  Secre- 
tary of  this  Society  was  Mr.  Alfred  Brooks  ;  the  Chaplain, 
Dr.  Bethune  ;  the  President,  Mr.  Henry  Vail,  of  Troy ;  and 
the  other  individuals  of  which  it  was  composed  exercised 
functions  either  private  or  oflScial,  according  to  posts  they 
occupied,  or  duties  they  had  to  perform. 

The  ^'  Reports  ^'  are  before  us,  very  whimsical  and  non- 
sensical ;  just  such  stuff  as  these  noble  "  boys  at  play  " 
might  be  expected  to  have  got  ofi*,  at  a  time  when  anything 
serious  would  have  been  out  of  place.  The  President  has 
a  song  improvised  in  his  honor  by  the  Chaplain,  of  which 
a  verse  may  suffice  as  specimen. 


"And  when  the  clock  beneath  our  belts  proclaims  the  hour  to  dine, 
And  we  to  seek  the  '  Tree  Tops  shade,'  our  busy  rods  resign, 
We  love  above  our  smoking  board  to  see  his  bright  face  shine, 
And  hear  him  smack  his  lips  and  say,  *  how  very,  very  fine,' 
Just  like  the  honored  President  of  our  Piseco  Club." 

It  was  sung  to  the  tune  of  "  The  Fine  Old  English 

These  fishing  excursions  resulted  in  something  besides 
pleasure.  "  Come  ye  after  me,"  said  our  Saviour  to  certain 
who  were  casting  their  nets,  "and  I  will  make  ye  to 
become  fishers  of  men."  And  accordingly  the  church  of 
the  Thousand  Islands  rose  and  flourished,  and  did  much 
good,  because  a  man  whose  eyes  were  always  open  for  a 
chance  of  doing  good,  went  into  the  neighborhood  for  his 

We  gratefully  make  use  of  the  statement  of  the  Rev. 
Anson  Dubois,  D.  D.,  upon  this  matter,  and  acknowledge 
our  inability  to  improve  upon  it  : 

*'  You  are  aware  that  Dr.  Bethune  originated  a  Mission  at  Alexan- 
dria Bay,  in  the  St.  Lawrence  River.  He  used  to  call  it  his  pet  child  of 
the  Thousand  Islands.  He  was  one  day  trolling  for  black  bass  among 
these  beautiful  Islands,  when  he  said  to  his  oarsman,  '  Tommy,  where 
do  you  go  to  church ? '  'No  where,'  said  he,  ' no  church  to  go  to.' 
'  But  do  none  of  these  people  go  to  church  ? '  '  No,  we  used  to  have 
Methodist  preaching  sometimes  at  the  Bay,  but  they  seem  to  have  given 
us  up  of  late  years.' 

This  excited  the  Doctors  sympathy.  He  had  it  published  in  the  dis- 
trict school  and  among  the  neighbors,  that  he  would  preach  at  the  school- 
house  the  next  Sabbath,  and  form  a  Sabbath  school.  It  was  a  new 
thing,  and  quite  a  wonder.  The  people  turned  out  largely.  After  the 
sermon  to  the  adults,  the  Doctor  gathered  the  children  to  the  front  seats, 
and  held  a  Sabbath  school,  greatly  interesting  them  with  his  Scripture 
stories  and  remarks.  '  Now,'  said  he,  '  my  friends,  we  must  have  a  Sun- 
day school  here.     Who  will  superintend  it?  ' 

214  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

No  one  volunteered.  He  then  cast  Ms  eyes  around  the  audience  in 
that  small  but  crowded  house.  It  rested,  after  a  moment,  on  the  intelli- 
gent and  energetic  countenance  of  a  middle-aged  lady.  '  Madam,'  said 
the  Doctor,  '  will  you  take  charge  of  this  school  ?  ' 

The  woman  tried  to  excuse  herself,  but  finally  consented,  and  for  the 
whole  season  managed  the  school  with  great  success,  although  she 
made  no  profession  of  religion,  and  was  the  wife  of  a  tavern-keeper,  an 
irreligious  man. 

The  Doctor  soon  after  sent  a  ten-dollar  library,  and  music  books  to 
the  school ;  and  a  friend,  an  enthusiastic  old  gentleman,  in  acknowledging 
their  receipt  and  use,  said,  '  If  Dr.  Bethune  could  hear  these  little  chil- 
dren singing  out  of  their  new  books,  he  would  think  it  was  the  angels  in 
heaven.'  The  next  season  Dr.  Bethune  sent  a  missionary,  Rev.  J.  A. 
Davenport,  to  this  field,  who  maintained  preaching  and  Sabbath  schools, 
sometimes  to  the  number  of  ten,  upon  the  Islands  and  adjacent  shores, 
and  was  supported  for  three  years  by  funds,  contributed  by  the  Doctor 
and  his  personal  friends.  That  mission,  begun  in  1846,  is  still  main- 
tained, and  has  been  productive  of  very  great  good. 

The  Doctor's  intercourse  with  the  less  cultivated  people  in  the  remote 
sections  of  the  country  where  he  so  loved  to  resort  during  his  summer 
vacations,  was  always  easy  and  free,  though  never  approaching  vulgar- 
ity. He  loved  especially  to  devote  his  Sabbaths  to  their  religious  profit, 
making  it  a  matter  of  conscience  to  preach  at  least  once,  and  frequently 
oftener.  He  used  to  tell  some  good  anecdotes  of  their  appreciation  of 
his  services.  I  will  give  you  one  as  a  specimen.  He  was  at  one  time 
among  one  of  the  roughest  sections  of  the  lumber  regions  skirting  Lake 
Champlain.  The  little  log  hut  in  which  he  preached  was  crammed,  and 
many  hardy  backwoodsmen  sat  about  the  door  in  the  shade.  He  discoursed 
earnestly  to  attentive  hearers.  After  meeting  broke  up,  some  little  con- 
sultation was  had  among  the  men,  and  one  of  them  came  up  with  the  Doc- 
tor on  his  way  to  his  tent.  Said  he,  very  respectfully,  '  Preacher,  we 
have  made  up  our  minds  that  we  want  you  to  stay  here  and  preach  for 
us.'  'Well,  but,'  said  the  Doctor,  'can  you  support  me  here?  How 
much  can  you  raise?'  His  friend  was  not  discouraged.  They  liad 
thought  of  that  too.  '  Yes  Sir,'  said  he,  '  we  have  made  up  our  minds 
to  give  you  one  hundred  dollars  a  year,  and  we'll  build  you  anew  church.' 
*  What ! '  said  a  bystander  who  had  not  been  in  the  council,  '  will  you 

LETTER   TO   MR.    DUBOIS.  215 

build  a  church  of  logs  ?  '  *  Build  a  church  of  logs  !  No  sir,  we'll  build 
a  church  of  sawed  stuff' !  The  Doctor  had  to  take  the  thing  seriously, 
and  show  them  why  he  could  not  come  and  live  there.  He  sometimes 
laughed  heartily  over  his  call  of  a  hundred  dollars'  salary,  and  a  new 
church  of  sawed  stuff,  though  he  declared  he  never  felt  himself  more 
highly  complimented  in  his  life." 

Mr.  Dubois  was  pastor  of  the  Thousand  Islands'  Church 
for  some  time  after  Mr.  Davenport  quitted  it,  and  perhaps 
there  is  no  better  place  than  the  present  to  insert  a  letter 
written  by  Doctor  Bethune  to  Mr.  Dubois,  embodying  cer- 
tain important  opinions,  although  the  date  is  several  years 

''April  12,  1852. 

You  ask  my  advice  and  shall  have  it  in  all  friendship.  As  a  general 
Tule  no  man  ought  to  change  his  settlement,  I  mean  his  first  settlement, 
for  several  years.  That  settlement  is  his  apprenticeship  to  the  pastoral 
office,  and  he  cannot  fairly  learn  its  lessons  in  less  time. 

A  minister's  character  is  made  in  his  first  charge.  If  he  be  faithful 
and  successful  there,  he  establishes  a  reputation  which  will  follow  him 
through  life,  because  it  will  be  reputation  among  his  clerical  brethren, 
who  are,  after  all,  the  best  judges.  The  school  you  are  in  is  a  hard,  but 
a  good  school.  You  have  time  for  thought.  You  meet  with  a  variety 
of  human  nature.  Your  work  does  not  overtask  your  brain,  and  every 
hour  is  a  preparation  for  a  more  important  sphere.  Two  or  three  years 
longer  there  will  do  you  much  good,  and  there  is  scarcely  any  position, 
except  those  of  the  first  class,  which  will  give  you  greater  prominence. 
By  declining  preferment  now  you  do  not  lose  it  but  only  postpone  it,  for 
Providence  has  other  places  in  store  than  thtit  which  you  refer  to. 

Another  general  rule  which  should  be  very  rarely  broken  tlirough,  is 
not  to  preach  as  a  candidate.  Young  licentiates,  or  unsettled  ministers, 
perhaps  must,— but  very  rarely  should  a  minister  who  has  a  pulpit,  put 
himself  forward,  or  be  brought  forward,  as  a  solicitor  for  another.  It 
always  lowers  him  in  the  sight  of  his  own  people,  and  in  that  of  the  peo- 
ple he  seeks.  The  seeker  is  always  underrated.  Let  yourself  be  sought, 
which  you  will  be  if  you  are  faithful,  and  God  blesses  you  in  the  place 

216  MEMOIR   or   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

his  Providence  assigns  you.  Do  not  try  to  be  your  own  Providence,  bu^ 
do  your  duty  and  trust  the  providence  of  God.  Candidating  has  been 
the  curse  of  our  churches,  and  has  belittled  our  ministry.  This  is  not 
the  popular  doctrine,  but  it  is  the  true  one.  I  could  point  you  to  several 
of  our  best  men  who  have  destroyed  their  hopes  of  advancement  by  seek- 
ing it. 

These  are  general  rules — but  of  course  there  are  exceptions,  yours 
may  be  one  —  and  deeply  interested  as  I  am  for  the  Islands,  I  would  not 
stand  in  the  way  of  your  usefulness  or  comfort.  I  am  impartial  in  the 
counsel  given  above.  In  any  case  you  may  rely  on  me,  as  far  as  you 
may  think  it  worth  your  while,  as  your  constant  and  ready  friend, 

Geokge  W.  Bbthune." 

In  this  Church  of  the  Thousand  Islands  a  beautiful  mural 
tablet  has  been  erected  by  the  Messrs.  Stewart  of  Brooklyn, 
to  the  memory  of  Dr.  Bethune. 

There  is  a  touch  of  sentiment  in  the  following  refusal : 

"  I  cannot  meet  you  at  Lake  George.  The  friend*  who  was  always 
my  companion  there,  the  man  whom  I  loved  best  and  as  whom  I  can 
never  love  man  again,  is  sleeping  in  sacred  rest  till  the  illustrious  morn- 
ing breaks.  He  is  associated  with  every  nook  and  island  of  Lake  George, 
and  I  can  fish  there  no  more." 

Several  allusions  have  been  made  to  friends  ;  those  who 
were  his  most  frequent  companions  in  these  excursions,  be- 
sides the  Rev.  Mr.  Cooke  of  Lewiston,  were  Mr.  George 
Trott  and  the  Rev.  Dr.  J.  Wheaton  Smith  of  Philadelphia. 
Mr.  Trott  states  that  they  were  under  canvas  for  two  weeks 
in  the  spring  and  autumn,  and  estimates  that  the  time  lie 
spent  with  Dr.  Bethune  in  the  woods,  would  cover  the  space 
of  an  entire  year.  He  relates  a  meeting  with  an  old  clergy- 
man in  Canada,  who  was  greatly  astonished  to  find  the  pas- 
tor in  such  trivial  employ.     "  What  !'^    he  said  "  is  this  the 

*  Probably  his  brother-in-law,  Mr.  John  Williama. 

PREACill^G    IN    THE    AVOODS.  217 

great  Dr.  Betliune,  and  can  it  be  that  he  has  come  all  this 
distance  to  amuse  himself  with  fishing-  ?''  Afterwards  he 
heard  him  preach  to  the  backwoodsmen,  and  at  once  de- 
clared that  Dr.  Bethune  had  acquired  more  influence  over 
these  people  in  that  brief  visit  than  he  had  gained  in  years. 
A  lumber  merchant  said,  he  would  be  glad  to  pay  all  the 
expenses  of  Dr.  B.  and  friend,  simply  for  the  benefit  that  re- 
sulted to  his  working  people;  and  only  last  summer,  Mr. 
Trott  met  with  a  blessed  result  of  those  preachings.  A 
man  in  Maine  told  him  that  his  first  religious  impressions 
had  been  produced  by  Dr.  Bethune 's  sermon. 

Preaching  to  these  plain  people,  his  pulpit  either  a  stump 
of  a  tree,  or  a  rock,  was  often  attended  with  ludicrous  scenes. 
One  Sunday  in  Maine,  just  as  he  concluded  a  solemn  service, 
before  the  people  had  risen,  the  quietness  was  disturbed  by 
a  slirili  voice,  "  Has  any  of  the  congregation  found  a  new 
jack-knife?  If  they  have,  I've  lost  one,  and  they'll  please 
hand  it  over." 

During  these  excursions,  the  diet  was  of  the  simplest 
character  ;  alcoholic  drinks,  and  even  wine,  were  excluded 
from  the  stores.  It  may  be  imagined  that  in  these  remote 
regions,  the  forests  of  Maine  and  the  wilder  British  Prov- 
inces, the  visit  of  such  a  distinguished  stranger  would  be  a 
great  event  ;  and  he  had  a  servant,  named  Ernest,  who  was 
frequently  sent  forvv^ard  to  make  arrangements  for  the  party, 
and  he  would  amuse  himself  by  exciting  public  expectation 
to  the  highest  point.  The  entree  of  the  Doctor  and  his  ''  fi- 
dus  Achates  "  the  Major,  was  like  that  of  lords  of  the  realm, 
but  they  would  find  its  consequence  in  the  greatly  increas- 
ed bills  that  ensued. 

Dr.  Bethune  himself  has  given  a  touching  incident  of  his 
mission  work  in  the  woods,  narrated  in  an  annual  for  Mr. 
L.  G.  Clarke. 

218  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

It  occurred  in  Northern  New  York,  when  in  company 
with  the  Piseco  Club*  on  the  romantic  banks  of  those  waters 
which  had  given  them  the  poetic  appellation;  and  where  they 
had  erected  a  simple  lodge.     The  article  is  headed  *'  Piseco." 

"  The  Sabbath  there  had  peculiar  charms.  No  church-going  bell  rang 
through  the  woods,  no  decorated  temple  lifted  its  spire,  but  the  hush  of 
divine  rest  was  upon  all  around.  A  sense  of  the  Holy  One  rested  on  the 
spirit,  the  birds  sung  more  sweetly,  the  dews  of  the  morning  shimmered 
more  brightly,  and  the  sounds  of  the  forest  were  like  the  voice  of  Psalms. 
As  the  day  went  on  toward  noon,  the  inhabitants,  —  whose  dwellings 
were  scauered  for  miles  around,  some  down  the  rocky  paths,  others  in 
boats  on  the  lake,  —  singly  or  in  companies,  men,  women,  and  little  ones, 
might  be  seen  drawing  near  to  the  lodge,  where,  when  all  assembled, 
they  formed  a  respectful  and  willing  congregation  of  perhaps  fifty  wor- 
shippers, and  listened  to  the  words  of  the  preacher,  who  sought  to  lead 
them  by  the  Gospel  of  the  Cross  through  nature  up  to  the  God  of  grace. 
Such  opportunities  were  rare  for  them  ;  never,  indeed,  was  a  sermon 
heard  there,  except  on  these  occasions.  The  devout  (for  God  the  Sa- 
viour had  a  '  few  names'  among  them)  received  the  word  with  '  glad- 
ness'; all  were  attentive,  and  their  visitors  found,  when  joining  v.ith 
them  in  the  primitive  service,  a  religious  power  seldom  felt  in  more 
ceremonious  homage. 

On  one  of  those  sacred  days,  there  came  among  the  rest,  two  young, 
graceful  women,  whose  air  and  dress  marked  them  as  of  a  superior 
cultivation.  Their  modest  voices  enriched  the  trembling  psalmody,  and 
their  countenances  showed  strong  sympathies  with  the  preacher's  utter- 
ances. At  the  close  of  t'no  service,  they  made,  through  one  of  their 
neighbors,  a  request  that  the  minister  would  pay  a  visit  to  tlieir  mother, 
who  had  been  a  long  time  ill,  and  was  near  death.  A  promise  was 
readily  given  that  he  would  do  so  the  same  day  ;  but  their  home  lay  four 
miles  distant,  and  a  sudden  storm  forbade  the  attempt.  The  Monday 
morning  shone  brightly,  though  a  heavy  cloud  at  the  west  suggested 
precautions  against  a  thunder  shower.  The  friends  parted  from  the 
landing,  each  bent  on  his  purpose ;  but  the  chaplain's  prow  was  turned 
on  Ms  mission  of  comfort  to  the  sick.    Had  any  prim  amateurs  of  eccle- 

♦This  club  was  a  different  institution  from  the  friends  mentioned  just  previously. 


siastical  conventionalities,  seen  him  with  his  broad-brimmed  hat,  neces- 
sary for  shelter  from  the  sun,  a  green  veil  thrown  around  it  as  defence 
from  the  mosquitoes  near  the  shores,  his  heavy  water-boots,  and  his 
whole  garb  chosen  for  aquatic  exigencies,  (for  like  Peter,  he  had  girt 
his  fisher's  coat  about  him)  they  would  hardly  have  recognized  his 
errand.  But  the  associations  of  the  scene  with  the  man  of  Nazareth 
and  the  Apostles  by  the  Sea  of  Galilee,  Avere  in  his  soul,  carrying  him 
back  to  the  primitive  Christianity,  and  lifting  him  above  the  forms  with 
which  men  have  overlaid  its  simplicity.  The  boat  flew  over  the  placid 
waters  in  which  lay  mirrored  the  whole  amphitheatre  of  the  mountain 
shores,  green  as  an  emerald.  The  wooded  point  hid  the  lodge  on  the 
one  side,  a  swelling  island  the  hamlets  on  the  other.  No  trace  of  man 
was  visible.  The  carol  of  birds  came  off  from  the  land,  now  and  then 
the  exulting  merriment  of  a  loon  rang  out  of  the  distance,  and  soon  a 
soft,  southern  breeze  redolent  of  the  spicy  hemlock  and  cedar,  rippled 
the  surface.  The  Sabbatli  had  transcended  its  ordinary  hours,  and  shed 
its  sweet  blessing  on  the  following  day.  His  rods  lay  idly  over  the  stern 
as  the  cliaplain  thought  of  the  duty  before  him  and  asked  counsel  of  the 
Master,  who,  '  Himself  bare  our  sicknesses  and  carried  our  sorrows.' 
He  remembered  the  disciples,  who  said,  'Lord,  he  whom  thou  lovcst  is 
sick;'  and  the  gracious  ansAver,  'This  sickness  is  not  unto  death,  but 
for  the  glory  of  God,  that  the  Son  of  Man  might  be  glorified  tliereby.' 
It  is  not  the  imagination  merely  that  gives  such  power  to  tlie  living 
oracles,  when  they  come  to  us  where  the  testimony  of  nature  unites  with 
the  inspiration.  It  is  the  blessing  of  Jesus,  who  souglit  the  wilderness, 
the  shore  and  the  mountain  side  to  gain  strength  from  communion  with 
his  Father.  It  was  in  such  solitudes  that  our  example  and  forerunner 
found  courage  for  his  trial  and  suffering.  Eeligion  is  eminently  social, 
but  its  seat  is  the  heart  of  the  individual  believer,  and  whatever  be  the 
advantage  of  Christian  fellowship,  the  flame  must  be  fed  in  private, 
personal  converse  witiithe  Father  cf  our  Spirits.  He  who  has  not  been 
r.lonc  with  God,  can  seldom  find  him  in  the  crov.'dcd  church. 

A  brief  hour,  briefer  for  these  meditations,  brought  the  keel  of  the 
boat  to  a  gravelly  nook  where  the  mouth  of  the  inlet  found  a  little 
harbor.  There,  awaiting  the  chaplain's  arrival,  stood  a  tail,  upright, 
man,  past  the  prime  of  life,  who,  with  a  style  of  courtesy  evidently 
foreign,  bnrcd  his  gray  head,  and  greeted  his  visitor  by  name  of  a 

220  MEMOIR    OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUKE,    D.  D. 

♦  You  have  kindly  come,  sir,  to  see  my  poor  wife,  I  thank  you  for  it. 
She  is  now  expecting  you,  for  we  heard  the  sound  of  your  oars  as  you 
turned  the  island.' 

A  rough  stone  house,  built  by  a  speculator  of  former  days,  stood  on  a 
knoll  a  little  \vay  from  the  stream,  and  the  garden  around  it  was 
trimmed  with  some  taste.  As  they  entered,  the  otvuer  said,  '  Welcome 
to  the  mountain  dwelling  of  an  old  soldier.  He  (pointing  to  an  engraved 
portrait  of  Blucher  wreathed  with  laurel  leaves)  was  my  general,  whose 
praise  I  once  received  as  I  lay  wounded  on  the  field  of  battle.  I  am  a 
Prussian,  sir,  and  came  to  this  country,  when  my  fatherland  had  no 
more  use  for  my  sword.  I  have  not  been  successful  in  my  peaceful  life, 
and  misfortune  after  misfortune  drove  me  here,  hoping  to  gather  about 
us  a  few  of  my  countrymen,  and  make  a  German  home  ;  but  in  that  I 
Avas  disappointed.  The  severe  winters  chilled  their  resolution,  and  now 
we  are  by  ourselves.  The  few  neighbors  about  us  are  not  of  cur  class, 
but  they  are  kind  and  honest,  and  the  world  has  nothing  to  tempt  me 
back  to  it.  I  have  one  brave  son  at  sea.  My  two  daugliters  you  saw 
yesterday.     We  had  another,  but  she  sleeps  yonder.' 

He  turned  abruptly  from  the  room.  The  chaplain,  left  to  himself 
observed  about  the  apartment  various  articles  of  refinement  and  faded 
luxury,  telling  tlie  story  of  more  prosperous  days.  The  subsequent 
acquaintance  with  the  family  confirmed  his  first  impressions.  Though 
not  of  high  rank,  they  were  educated,  of  gentle  manners,  and  though  for 
years  remote  from  cultivated  society,  preserved  the  amenities  which  now 
distinguished  them.  Only  the  father  seemed  to  have  suflfered  from 
want  of  occupation  and,  not  unlikely,  from  habits  formed  in  camp,  habits 
doubly  dangerous  in  seclusion. 

At  a  signal  from  another  room,  one  of  the  daughters  led  the  chaplain 
to  the  bedside  of  the  sufiercr.  The  father  sat  with  his  face  averted, 
near  an  open  window,  through  which  came  the  laughing  prattle  of  a 
child,  and  a  half  idiot  serving-woman  looked  in  wonderingly  across  the 
threshhold  of  an  outer  kitchen.  The  daughters,  having  raised  tlieir 
mother's  head  on  a  higher  pillow,  and  affectionately  smoothed  her  thin, 
gray  hair  under  the  snow-Avhite  cap,  withdrew  to  the  other  side  of  tlie 
bed.  The  chaplain  placed  his  broad  hat,  with  its  green  veil,  on  the  little 
table,  and  sat  silent  for  a  while,  not  knowing  how  to  begin,  since,  as  yet, 
nothing  had  given  him  a  clue  to  the  woman's  state  of  mind.  She  lay 
still  and  stone-like;   her    eyes  were  dry,  with  little    'speculation'  in 

THE    DYIN(J    CIiniSTIAX.  221 

them;  her  lips  moved,  but  uttered  no  sound,  and  lier  hand  feebly 
stretched  out,  was  cold  and  stiff.  Her  whole  frame  was  worn  to 
extreme  thinness,  and  the  color  of  her  skin  told  tiiat  the  seat  of  her 
disease  was  the  liver. 

At  length  the  chaplain,  peeing  that  her  soul  was  near  its  dread 
passage  into  the  eternal  future,  said:  'I  am  sorry  my  friend,  to  find 
you  so  very  ill.     You  are  soon  to  die  ! ' 

'  Yes.' 

*  It  is  a  fearful  thing;  are  you  not  afraid?  ' 
'  No.' 

'  But  to  go  into  the  presence  of  God,  our  Judge,  is  a  most  solemn 
'  Yes.' 

*  And  are  you  not  afraid  ? ' 

The  preacher  was  confounded;  the  short  answers,  almost  cold, 
without  emotion,  the  glazed  eye,  the  rigid  countenance,  caused  him  to 
doubt  whether  he  had  to  contend  with  ignorance  or  insensibility. 
Anxious  to  rouse  some  feeling,  if  possible  to  startle  into  some  attention, 
as  a  physician  applies  the  probe,  he  pushed  severe  declarations  of 
certain  judgment  and  the  danger  of  impenitence,  reminded  her  that 
C  hrist,  the  Saviour  of  the  believing,  will  be  the  Avenger  of  Sin,  and 
that  *  there  is  no  work  nor  device  in  the  grave,  and  as  the  tree  falls  so  it 
must  lie.'  The  tearless  eye  unwinkingly  gazed  on  him,  and  no  shrink- 
ing followed  his  keen  surgery. 

'  Madam,  you  are  going  before  God,  and  do  you  not  fear?  ' 

A  faint  smile  stole  struggling  through  her  thin  features,  and  a  light, 
like  a  star  twinkling  under  a  deep  shadow,  was  seen  far  within  her  eye, 
and,  pointing  witli  her  fmger  upward,  slie  said,  in  a  firm,  low  tone, 
'  Though  he  slay  me,  yet  will  I  trust  in  Ilim.' 

The  chaplain  bowed  his  head  on  the  pillow  and  Avept  thanks.  Here 
was  no  ignorant  or  callous  soul,  but  a  child  of  God,  whose  perfect  love 
had  cast  out  fear.  '  Yes,  Christian  soul,  you  are  not  afraid  of  evil 
tidings  ;  your  heart  is  fixed,  trusting  in  Ilim  who  went  this  way  before 
you.     Fear  no  evil ;  His  rod  and  His  staff,  they  will  comfort  you.' 

*  Amen  !  blessed  be  His  name,'  replied  the  dying  woman.  '  It  is 
true.      I  know  in  whom  I  have  believed,  and  that  He  is  able  to  keep 

222         MEMOIR  OF  gp:o.  w.  bstiiune,  d.  d. 

what  I  have  committed  to  Kim.  Because  He  hath  been  my  help, 
therefore  under  his  wings  do  I  rejoice ! ' 

It  seemed  now  as  if  the  fountain  of  her  speech  was  unsealed,  and, 
though  no  moisture  was  in  her  eyes,  and  the  few  drops  which  started  out 
on  her  forehead  were  cold  and  clammy,  and  the  worn  lineaments  had 
lost  the  power  to  smile,  and  she  lay  still  as  marble,  yet,  with  a  voice 
clear  and  unfaltering,  she  went  on  to  testify  her  faith  in  Christ,  and  of 
the  peace  that  filled  her  soul.  A  strength  denied  to  her  body  came  from 

'  Oh,  sir,  I  thank  you  for  coming.  I  thank  God  for  sending  you  to 
me,  like  the  angel  to  Hagar  in  the  wilderness  ;  I  prayed  for  it.  It  is 
four  long  years  since  I  heard  the  voice  of  a  Christian  minister  ;  and  all 
that  time  I  prayed  for  one  to  hold  the  water  of  life  to  my  lips  once 
more.    Now  I  know  that  lie  has  heard  me,  blessed  be  His  name  ! ' 

The  preacher  interrupted  her  to  say,  that  she  had  not  been  left  alone 
by  her  God,  who  needed  not  man's  lips  to  comfort  his  people. 

'Alone!  no,  never  alone!  I  have  seen -Stm  in  his  mighty  works.  I 
have  heard  Him  in  the  stoims  of  winter,  and  in  the  summer  winds.  I 
had  my  Bible,  His  own  holy  word.  His  spirit  has  been  with  me.  But 
I  thank  Him  for  the  voice  of  His  commissioned  servant,  whose  duty  it  is 
to  comfort  his  people.' 

The  readers  of  this  imperfect  sketch  can  have  little  idea  of  the  elo- 
quence, almost  supernatural,  pervaded  by  Scriptural  language  and  im- 
agery, with  wliich  she  spoke.  It  was  the  soul  triumphing  over  the  faint- 
ing flesh ;  truth  in  its  own  energy,  unaided  by  human  expressions ;  a 
voice  of  the  dead,  not  sepulchral,  but  of  one  near  the  gate  of  heaven. 

The  chaplain  knelt  beside  the  bed,  and  all  the  rest  knelt  with  him ; 
but  there  were  more  thanks  than  petitions  in  liis  prayer.  The  clouds 
that  hung  about  the  borders  of  eternity,  were  so  bright  with  the  glory 
beyond,  that  sorrow  and  pain  were  forgotten,  as  he  gave  utterance  to  the 
dying  woman's  memories  and  hopes,  the  memories  of  grace,  and  the 
hopes  of  immortality  that  met  together  in  her  faithful  heart.  Nor  need 
I  add,  that  his  own  gratitude  was  strong  to  the  Good  Shepherd  who  had 
sent  him  to  find  this  sheep  among  the  mountains,  not  lost  nor  forgotten, 
but  longing  for  a  token  of  her  Saviours  care. 

When  he  rose  from  his  knees,  she  thanked  him  again,  but  with  more 


risible  emotion  than  before,  and  said :  '  Sir,  I  doubt  not  God  directed 
you  here,  and  there  is  one  favor  more  I  h;ive  asked  of  Him,  and  now 
aslc  through  you.  Three  years  ago  rny  eldest  daughter  died  in  my  arms, 
assured  of  rest,  but  leaving  behind  lier  a  babe  not  two  weeks  old. 
Mother,  she  said,  just  as  she  was  dying,  I  leave  my  child  with  you,  to 
bring  her  to  me  in  heaven.  You  will  do  it  for  Christ's  sake,  and  mine, 
and  hers,  mother.  And  mother.  He  has  told  us  to  give  little  cldldren  to 
Him  in  baptism.  Dear  mother,  promise  that  my  child  shall  be  baptised. 
I  promised,  and  her  spirit  departed.  Ever  since,  I  have  been  praying 
and  waiting  for  some  minister  to  find  his  way  to  us,  but  in  vain.  More 
than  once  I  heard  of  some  who  had  come  as  far  as  Lake  Pleasant,  but 
none  reached  Piseco,  and  I  almost  feared  that  I  should  die  and  not  be 
able  to  tell  my  child  in  Heaven  that  the  blessed  water  had  been  on  her 
baby's  face.  Yet,  even  in  this,  God  has  been  good  to  me.  You  will 
baptize  my  little  one  ?  How  gladly  the  chaplain  assented,  may  be  easily 
imagined.  The  cliild  was  called  in  from  her  play  on  the  grass-plat,  her 
rosy,  wondering  face  was  gently  washed,  and  her  light  brown  hair  parted 
on  her  forehead,  and  she  stood  with  her  bare,  white  feet,  on  a  lov/  bench 
by  her  grandmother's  pillow.  The  grandfather  filled  an  antique  silver 
bowl  with  water,  freshly  dipped  from  a  spring  near  the  river.  An  old 
brass-clasped  folio  of  Luther's  Bible  was  laid  open  at  the  family  record, 
beside  the  water,  the  chaplain's  broad  hat  on  the  other  side ;  he  thought 
not,  and  none  thought,  of  his  coarse  grey  coat,  or  his  heavy  boots  :  he 
was  full  of  his  sacred  office,  and  the  presence  of  the  Invisible  wa.s  upon 
him.  The  feeble  woman,  strengthened  by  love  and  foith,  raised  herself 
higher  on  the  bed,  and  put  her  wasted  arm  over  the  plump  shoulders  of 
the  fair,  blue-eyed  child.  The  old  man  and  his  daughters,  and  her  dull- 
witted  servant  at  the  kitchen  door,  reverently  standing,  sobbed  aloud; 
and  amidst  the  tears  of  all,  except  her  whose  source  of  tears  was  dried 
up  for  ever,  the  chaplain  recited  the  touching  prayer  of  the  Reformed 
Churches  before  the  baptism  of  infants,  and  with  the  name  of  the  de- 
parted mother  breathed  over  her  orphan,  in  the  name  of  the  Father, 
and  of  the  Son,  and  of  the  Holy  Ghost,  she  was  dedicated  to  God  by 
water,  sprinkled  three  times  on  her  sweet  grave  face.  The  grandfather 
handed  a  pen  to  the  chaplain,  but  it  was  lightly  pressed  to  trace  the  in- 
scription, for  the  page  was  wet  with  the  big  drops  that  fell  from  tlie  old 
man's  eyes. 

224  MEMOIR   or    GEO.    V/.    BETIIUNE,    D.  D. 

Many  moments  elapsed  before  the  thanksgiving  could  be  uttered,  and 
then  the  happy  saint  joyfully  exclaimed  : 

*  Bless  you,  sir !  I  bless  God  that  he  has  granted  me  tliis  peace  before 
I  die.     Now  I  am  ready  to  go  to  my  child  in  Heaven.' 

'  My  dear  madam,'  answered  the  preacher,  'it  is,  indeed,  a  blessed  or- 
dinance ;  but  the  child  of  prayers  for  two  generations  would  not  have 
missed  the  promise  because  of  an  impossibility  on  your  part.' 

'  No,  no  !  The  spirit  is  better  than  the  form.  She  had  the  promise  ; 
I  knew  that  she  was  in  the  covenant,  but  I  wanted  her  in  the  fold.' 

The  chaplain  entered  his  boat.  Never  did  lake  and  mountain  and 
green  shore  look  so  beautiful,  for  they  seemed  all  bathed  in  holy  light ; 
and  that  noon,  when,  with  his  friends  reclining  on  the  sward,  he  told  the 
story  of  the  baptism  in  the  wilderness,  their  moistened  eyes  expressed 
their  sympathy  with  his  joy. 

Heaven  opened  for  the  grandmother  a  few  days  afterwards.  The  next 
year  her  Saviour  took  uj)  her  cliild's  child  in  his  arms,  and  the  three 
were  together  among  the  angels.  The  grandfather  lived  but  a  short 
time.  One  of  the  daughters  having  married  a,  moved  witli  her 
sister,  down  into  the  open  country,  where  she  also  died  in  her  young 
beauty.  Of  the  two  other  m^embers  of  the  family,  I  have  heard  nothing 

The  old  stone  house  still  stands  near  the  rushing  inlet,  but  the  storms 
beat  through  its  broken  windows.  Eank  weeds  have  overrun  the  gar- 
den, and  brambles  hide  the  spring  near  the  kitchen  door.  Yet  the 
path  from  the  landing-place  can  be  followed ;  and  should  any  of  my 
readers  ever  visit  Piseco,  now  more  accessible,  but  charming  as  ever, 
they  can  easily  recognize  the  scene  of  my  story.  It  is  ever  fresh  and 
hallowed  in  my  memory ;  for  there  I  learned,  by  precious  experience, 
that  the  good  God  never  forgets  those  who  trust  in  Him  ;  and  still,  go 
where  we  will,  we  may  carry  this  blessing  with  us  to  some  heart  thirsting 
for  His  word." 

What  a  commentary  on  his  own  words  in  the  preface  to 
Walton  and  Cotton's  Angler  : 

'  I  trust  that  I  have  drunk  enough  of  the  old  angler's  spirit  not  to  let 
such  pastime  break  in  upon  better  tilings ;  but,  on  the  other  hand,  I 


have  worked  the  harder  from  thankfulness  to  Him  who  tauglit  the  brook 
to  wind  with  musical  gurglings,  as  it  rolls  on  to  the  great  sea." 

He  practised  on  the  advice  given  to  the  young  men  of 
Yale  College  should  they  go  a  fishing  : 

"  Nor  should  the  angler  forget  the  best  of  books  in  his  pocket,  and  a 

few  well-chosen  jewels  of  truth  to  give  away  as  he  enjoys  the  simple  fare 

of  some   upland  cottage,  or  chats  with  the  secluded  inmates   during 

the  soft  twihght,  before  he  asks  a  blessing  upon  the  household  for  the 



226  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,   D.  D. 



There  is  little  to  note  in  Dr.  Bethune's  life  at  this  time 
beyond  the  literary  works  which  proceeded  from  his  inces- 
sant pen.  In  1848,  the  "  British  Female  Poets,  Avith  Bio- 
graphical and  Critical  Notices/'  was  edited  by  him,  "  and  the 
specimens  which  he  gives  are  well  chosen,  the  biographical 
sketches  ably  written,  and  the  characteristics  of  each  writer 
skilfully  discriminated. '^  It  was  also  expected  that  he 
would  follow  this  with  the  ''  Female  Poets  of  America,"  but 
that  task  was  transferred  to  a  young  friend,"^'  in  whose  judg- 
ment and  taste  he  had  great  confidence.  A  little  earlier, 
Lindsay  and  Blakiston  issued  a  volume  of  his  poetry,  entitled 
"Lays  of  Love  and  Faith,  with  other  Fugitive  Poems.''  Dr. 
Bethune  did  not  give  himself  to  making  poetry,  it  was  merely 
an  incident  to  his  more  severe  labors  with  which  he  occupied 
his  leisure  hours.  "  Many  of  these  lays  were  tributes  of 
affection  to  those  most  dear  to  their  author,  whilst  others 
were  devotional,  epigrammatic,  patriotic  and  miscellaneous  ; 
and  all  exhibit  a  rich  and  vivid  imagination,  much  delicacy 
of  sentiment  and  expression,  and  melod}'-  of  versification.'' 
Mr.  William  H.  Prescott  writes,  ''I  asked  my  wife  as  she 
read  them  to  me  (which  is  my  way  of  reading)  to  mark 
those  we  liked  the  best ;  but  I  soon  found  they  were  nearly 
all  to  be  marked,  that  is,  the  original  pieces  ;  They  are 
warmed  by  a  genuine  feeling,   and  often  have  a  vein  of 

*  Misa  Caroline  May. 

CIIK13TMAS    HYMN.  0^7 

tender  melancholy  running-  tlirougli  them,  which  looks  for 
repose  to  a  better  world  than  this  ;  you  are  certainly  the 
poet  of  the  heart  as  well  as  of  the  head.  One  would  hardly 
have  looked  for  this  vein,  in  one  of  so  cheerful,  not  to  say 
comical,  turn  in  conversation.  Arc  the  man  and  the  author 
of  different  natures  ?  '' 

It  was  the  custom  of  Dr.  Bethune  to  prepare  hymns  for 
bis  Sunday  school  children  on  their  festal  days,  and  we 
present  the  following,  as  a  happy  specimen  : 


"Joy  and  gladness  !  joy  and  gladness, 

O  happy  day ! 
Every  thought  of  sin  and  sadness, 

Chase,  chase  away. 
Heard  ye  not  the  angels  telling, 
Christ,  the  Lord  of  might,  excelling, 
On  the  earth  with  man  is  dwelling, 

Clad  in  our  clay ! 

With  the  shepherd  throng  around  him 

Haste  we  to  bow  ; 
By  the  angels'  sign  they  found  him, 

We  know  him  now ! 
New-born  babe  of  houseless  stranger, 
Cradled  low  in  Bethlehem's  manger, 
Saviour  from  our  sin  and  danger, 

Jesus,  'tis  thou  I 

God  of  life,  in  mortal  weakness, 

Hail,  Virgin  born ! 
Infinite  in  lowly  meekness. 

Thou  wilt  not  scorn. 
Though  ail  Heaven  is  singing  o'er  thee, 
And  gray  wisdom  bows  before  thee, 
When  our  youthful  hearts  adore  thee. 

This  lioly  morn. 

228  MEMOIR    OF   GEO.    W.    BETIIUNE,    D.  D. 

Son  of  Mary,  blessed  mother! 

Thy  lore  we  claim ; 
Son  of  God,  our  elder  brother, 

O  !  gentle  name  ! 
To  thy  Father's  throne  ascended, 
With  thine  own  His  glory  blended, 
Thou  art  all  thy  trials  ended, 

Ever  the  same. 

Thou  wert  born  to  tears  and  sorrows, 

Pilgrim  divine ; 
Watchful  nights  and  weary  morrows, 

Brother,  were  thine ; 
By  thy  fight  with  strong  temptation, 
By  thy  cup  of  tribulation, 
Oh,  thou  God  of  our  salvation, 

With  mercy  shine. 

In  thy  holy  footsteps  treading. 

Guide,  lest  we  stray, 
From  thy  word  of  promise,  shedding 

Light  on  our  way ; 
Never  leave  us,  nor  forsake  us, 
Like  thyself  in  mercy  make  us. 
And  at  last  to  glory  take  us, 

Jesus,  we  pray." 

G.  W.  B.  TO  Mrs.  J.  B.  '' 3Iarch  18,  1848. 

Mt  Beloved  Mother  :  Before  you  receive  this,  you  will  be  praying 
to  God  for  your  son  on  the  anniversary  of  his  birth,  and  I  shall  have 
blessed  him  for  giving  my  opening  life  to  the  care  of  such  a  mother.  I 
desire  to  renew  my  filial  obligations,  and  declare  to  you,  out  of  my 
heart's  truth,  that  I  am  still  in  all  reverent  obedience  and  affection, 
your  grateful  son,  your  child..  Would  that  I  could  have  better  oppor- 
tunities of  proving  how  devotedly  I  am  yours.  Dear  mother,  I  was  a 
wayward  youth,  and  am  a  very  faulty  man ;  forgive  me  all  the  past  and 
give  me  you^  blessing  in  my  future.  God  will  hear  us  both,  you  for 
me,  me  for  you." 

LETTER   TO   DR.    VEllMILYE.  229 

Dr.  Bethune  to  Dr.  Vermilye.  "  Aj^ril  17,  1848. 

Mt  Dear  Vermilye  :  I  am  at  a  loss,  principally  from  lack  of  proper 
information,  how  to  act  in  reference  to  some  present  circumstances. 
Rumors  uncertain  and  indistinct  have  run  through  my  congregation,  of 
my  name  having  been  used  in  several  baliotings  of  your  consistory  for 
an  additional  minister,  and,  as  might  be  supposed  some  uneasy  inquiry 
has  been  excited.  I  find  also  that  some  out  of  your  congregation,  and 
some  in,  have  thought  me  a  candidate  for  the  vacant  place.  It  has  even 
been  said,  though  by  those  who  had  no  right  to  speak  on  the  subject, 
that  I  ought  to  withdraw  my  name.  Tliis  you  know  I  cannot  do,  as  I 
never  directly  or  indirectly  presented  it ;  nor  can  I,  without  impertinence, 
presume  to  know  any  tiling  of  proceedings  in  your  consistory  about  whicli 
I  have  no  legitimate  information.  At  the  same  time,  while  I  duly  appre- 
ciate the  honor  of  being  named  by  any  one  or  more  individuals,  as  at  all 
fitted  for  so  high  a  station,  I  have  a  great  repugnance  to  being  tliought 
a  candidate  for  any  pulpit  whatever.  Other  brethren  may,  if  they  choose, 
as  they  have  a  right,  take  another  course ;  but,  for  myself,  since  the 
beginning  of  my  ministry,  I  have  carefully  avoided  any  step  that  might 
bring  me  under  any  suspicion  of  offering  myself  to  any  congregation, 
and  I  am  anxious  to  maintain  my  character.  From  your  own  high  sense 
of  Christian  honor,  and  the  unrestrained  confidence  of  our  friendship, 
you  will,  I  trust,  appreciate  my  feelings  when  I  confess  myself  annoyed 
by  the  supposition,  in  any  quarter,  of  my  having  deviated  from  a  rule  of 
ministerial  conduct  which  I  early  adopted,  and  have  never  varied  from. 
I  am  not  sure  that  any  thing  needs  to  be  done,  but  as  you  have  a  better 
opportunity  of  knowing,  I  beg  you  to  act  for  me  as,  in  like  circumstances, 
I  would  act  for  you.  The  delicacy  of  my  position  compels  me  to  throw 
myself  upon  the  kindness  you  have  ever  shown  to  your  affectionate 
friend  and  brother,  George  "W.  Bethuxe. 

P.  S.  This  note  is  confidential,  but  only  so  far  as  not  to  prevent  your 
using  it  to  secure  tlie  end  for  wiiich  it  has  been  written." 

The  above  letter  defiiies  with  perfect  accuracy  Dr. 
Bethime's  position  with  reference  to  a  question  of  interest, 
namely,  a  possible  call  to  be  associate  pastor  of  the  Colle- 
giate Church  of  New  York.  The  communication  did  not 
and  was  not  intended  to  prevent  further  movement  in  the 

230  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETIiUXE,    D.  D. 

matter,  but  solely  to  bring  any  possible  negotiation  to  a 
point.  In  due  time,  September  15th,  he  was  distinctly  in- 
formed by  Dr.  John  Knox,  that  he  had  been  elected  by  the 
consistory,  but  the  question  was  set  at  rest  by  Dr.  Bethune's 

"  Sepieraher  25,  18-18. 
*  Grace  be  unto  you  and  peace  be  multiplied.' 

Dearly  Beloved  Brethren  :  It  is  with  a  deep  sense  of  ray  unwor- 
thiness,  that  I  gratefully  acknowledge  having  received  on  the  23d  inst., 
from  the  hands  of  your  committee,  the  enclosed  call  to  exercise  my 
ministry  within  the  sphere  of  your  churcli. 

You  are  aware,  brethren,  of  the  responsible  station  I  now  hold  as  the 
Pastor  and  Bishop  of  a  church  not  undeserving  of  your  fraternal  regard, 
which  is  very  dear  to  me  because  of  its  eminent  fidelity  in  our  Master's 
cause,  and  the  affectionate  kindness  ever  shown  by  them  to  their 
minister,  for  the  Master's  sake.  This,  with  other  circumstances,  ren- 
dered this  question  submitted  by  you  to  my  judgment,  one  of  great 
gravity,  from  the  influence  my  decision  must  have  upon  both  the 
churches,  and  upon  my  future  course  as  a  Christian  man,  and  a  minister 
of  the  gospel. 

The  result  of  my  conscientious  deliberations,  and  I  trust,  not  insin- 
cere supplications  for  Divine  help,  has  been  that  I  ought  to  decline 
respectfully  but  firmly,  the  call  which  I  was  unworthy  to  receive,  yet 
am  not  free  to  entertain." 

Dr.  Bethune  had  a  mulatto  servant,*  who  rejoiced  in  the 
Scripture  name  of  Aquila,  or  Aquilla,  as  be  was  usually 
misnomered.  This  faithful  man  always  kncAV  where  his 
master's  books  were  to  be  found ;  often  too,  when  the  owner 
himself  had  forgotten,  or  never  given  himself  the  trouble 
to  find  out;  so  the  two  were  continually  in  the  study 
together,  and  the  servant  was  of  all  his  master's  council. 

*  There  was  something  very  pleasant  in  Dr.Bethune's  relation  with  his  servants. 
Aquila  lived  in  his  family  for  fourteen  years,  and  died  in  the  arms  of  the  Doctor, 
who  at  his  funeral  followed  tlie  liearse  as  chief  mourner. 

THE    COLLEGIATE    aVLL.  231 

"Aquila,"  said  the  Doctor,  when  he  was  pondering  on  the 
letter  we  liave  just  given,  "What  do  you  think  of  this  call 
to  the  Collegiate  church  in  New  York,  should  I  accept  it?" 
^'•IIow  many  gentlemen  did  you  say  signed  it  ?  "  "  Twenty- 
four."  "Hard  thing  to  serve  twenty-four  masters,  sure  to 
get  into  trouble  with  some  of  them,"  w^as  the  sententious 
and,  w^e  may  fairly  believe,  decisive  rejoinder. 

Many  contingent  advantages  were  sacrificed  by  this  re- 
jection of  the  Collegiate  call :  a  nearly  doubled  salary,  easier 
work,  greater  leisure  for  literary  pursuits,  the  near  neighbor- 
hood of  Mrs.  Joanna  Bethune,  and  a  home  in  his  native 
city  ;  but,  acting  to  the  best  of  his  not  unassisted  judgment, 
Dr.  Bethune  chose  to  forego  all  these,  and  it  is  useless  to 
speculate  whether  a  different  course  of  action  might  not 
have  prolonged  his  life. 

This  event  gave  occasion  to  a  Report  which  was  presented 
to  the  Third  Dutch  church  of  Philadeli^hia,  and  presents  a 
valuable  expression  of  sentiment  as  well  as  a  sketch  of 
ministerial  success.  It  was  accompanied  with  the  sub- 
stantial donation  of  one  thousand  dollars.  We  quote  some 

"  How  shall  your  committee  charactei-ize  the  ardent  desire  that  met 
them  every  where,  not  only  for  the  health  and  happiness  of  their  pastor, 
but  for  the  continuance  of  his  usefulness  in  a  sphere  where  he  has 
liithcrto  shone  with  unsurpassed  lustre  ? 

That  their  efforts  have  through  the  blessings  of  God  been  crowned 
with  success,  no  one  can  or  does  for  a  moment  doubt;  and  such  success, 
without  endowments,  without  great  wealth  among  our  early  pioneers, 
this  pile  arose  at  a  cost  of  fifty-five  thousand  dollars.  A  little  more 
than  twelve  years  ago  the  seed  was  planted.  The  fruit  has  been,  the 
reduction  of  the  debt  to  about  sixteen  thousand  dollars;  voluntary 
contributions  by  the  members  of  the  society,   exclusive  of  private 

232  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

benevolences,  for  various  religious  and  charitable  associations  of 
between  thirty  and  forty  thousand  dollars ;  a  large  number  of  com- 
municants ;  almost  every  pew,  and  almost  every  seat  in  the  pews,  either 
owned  or  rented;  an  agreeable,  attentive  and  enlightened  audience; 
the  most  entire  and  perfect  harmony  on  all  our  concerns.  Surely  the 
seed  has  fallen  in  good  ground.  But  sever  the  tie  that  binds  us,  and 
who  shall  answer  for  the  consequences  to  this  society?  "Who  is  to 
sustain  them,  to  guide  their  tottering  feet  through  an  unaccustomed 
path?  To  them  the  cloud  may  vanish  by  day,  and  the  pillar  of  fire  by 
night  be  forever  extinguished.  The  picture  must  not  be  dwelt  upon. 
We  have  done  something,  will  do  more.  But  the  tie  which  binds  us 
to  our  pastor,  our  friend,  our  Bethune,  cannot,  must  not  be  broken." 

On  the  23d  of  October  the  call  to  New  York  was  again 
forwarded  to  Dr.  Bethune  with  urgent  letters  and  verbal 
messages,  but  met  with  a  similar  answer. 

G.  Yf.  B.  TO  Mrs.  J.  B.  "Philadelphia,  Odoler  23,  1848. 

My  beloved  Mother  :  I  have  been  reproaching  myself  ever  since 
declining  to  preach  for  your  Liberian  school.  Por  you  I  should  be 
glad  to  do  anything.  That  thing  requires  time.  If  it  will  do  after  a 
Avhile,  tell  your  boy  what  your  wishes  are  and  he  will  try  to  be  a  good 

My  old  friend  Mr.  Labriskie  came  in  again  on  Thursday,  with  the  call 
in  no  way  altered  except  that  the  additional  five  hundred  is  endorsed 
upon  it.  Indeed  I  think  my  people  would  give  mo  any  thing  I  ask  now, 
but  alas,  they  cannot  give  me  my  dear  mother.  I\Iy  time  is  filled  with 
duties,  yet  passes  sadly  and  solitary  enough.  You  are  not  out  of  mind 
for  an  hour  except  when  I  am  asleep,  and  then  I  often  dream  of  you. 

I  had  a  sweet  subject  for  a  sermon  yesterday  morning :  The  youth 
of  Jesus,  embracing  his  questioning  with  the  doctors.  It  is  full  of 
delightful  interest,  and  I  got  light  iipon  it  I  never  had  before. 

I  send  the  call  back  to-day,  but  with  a  pang  in  thus  consenting  to  be 
separated  from  you. 

God  bless  my  dear  mother. 

Geo.  W.  Bethtine." 


"■  OdGler  30. 

I  was  happy  while  studying  for  ray  last  sermon.  It  was  on  Galatians 
iii.  19 :  The  law  in  the  hands  of  the  mediator.  If  you  will  compare 
the  8th  and  17th  verses  of  the  chapter,  you  will  see  how  strongly  the 
apostle  argues  to  show  that  the  lavN--  is  actually  under  or  part  of  the 
system  of  mercy.     A  most  cheering  and  edifying  thought. 

(8th  verse.  And  the  scripture,  foreseeing  that  God  would  justify  the 
heathen  through  faith,  preached  before  the  gospel  unto  Abraham,  saying, 
in  thee  shall  all  nations  be  blessed. 

17th  verse.  And  this  I  say,  that  the  covenant  that  was  confirmed 
before  of  God  in  Christ,  the  law,  wliicli  was  four  hundred  and  thirty 
years  after,  cannot  disannul,  that  it  should  make  the  promise  of  no 

19th  verse.  "Wherefore  then  serveth  the  law  ?  It  was  added  because 
of  transgressions,  till  the  seed  should  come  to  whom  the  promise  was 
made  ;  and  it  was  ordained  by  angels  in  the  hand  of  a  mediator.) 

It  seems  to  me  that  the  reasoning  of  the  apostles  throughout  the 
chapter,  upsets  the  millenarian  notions  about  the  glory  the  Jews  are 
to  have  in  the  latter  days.  The  seed  of  Abraham  to  whom  the  promises 
arc  made,  is  the  seed  of  faith,  not  of  nature.  The  moment  Jew  and 
Gentile  are  in  Christ,  they  are  one,  no  difference. 

I  am  quite  well,  though  a  little  Mondayish,  for  I  worked  hard 

"  NoveTtiher  5. 

I  was  preaching  this  morning  to  a  handful  of  my  people  (for  the 
weather  was  stormy),  on  the  first  verse  of  the  xc.  Psalm:  'The 
Lord  our  dwelling-place  in  all  generations.'  OuVy  the  plural  pronoun, 
connects  the  believer  with  all  God's  people  in  the  past  and  in  the  future, 
as  one  family,  having  one  dwelling-place,  home  in  God.  The  thought^ 
open  beautifully. 

I  had  a  high  compliment  paid  me  the  other  day,  and  as  it  may  gratify 
you,  I  may  be  pardoned  the  vanity  of  telling  it.  Professor  Anthon 
(the  learned  Anthon  of  Columbia  College)  has  dedicated  his  late 
edition  of  Xenophon's  Memorabilia  of  Socrates  to  me.  I  have  not 
even  seen  the  Professor  for  many  years,  though  he  has  been  kind 
enough  to  write  me  ttvice  in  answer  to  some  literary  questions  I  put 
to  him. 

234  iMEjIOIP.   OF   Gi:0.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

It  runs  :  '  To  Eev.  George  ^Y.  Bethune,  D.T>.  the  able  theologian,  the 
eloquent  divine,  the  graceful  and  accomplished  scholar,  this  work  is  re- 
spectfully dedicated  by  one  who  takes  pride  in  clainung  him  as  an  early 
pupil  and  a  steadfast  friend.' 

There  is  no  interested  motive  that  can  be  imagined  for  this." 

All  this  writing  had  one  inevitable  effect,  and  we  must 
alas !  here  chronicle  that  Dr.  Bethune's  hand-writing,  once 
so  neat  and  plain,  had  by  this  time  become  illegible 

"  You  laugh  at  your  hand-writing,"  says  his  friend  Littell. 
"How  beautiful  it  is  in  general^  but  how  much  in  general 
it  is !  I  take  great  credit  to  myself  for  making  it  out,  and 
as  it  looks  like  some  of  the  Arabic  MSS.,  Avhich  are 
copied  into  some  of  your  Commentaries,  I  may  have  too 
readily  yielded  to  the  notion  that  I  could  not  read  them." 

Here  is  another  whimsical  jeremiade  of  later  date.'^  It 
seems  we  little  know  hov/  much  we  cause  our  brother  to 
sin  by  careless  calligraphy. 

"My  deak  Major:  Yours  of  the 23d  reached  me  yesterday.  I  had 
previously  received  the  Doctor's.  It  was  one  of  his  distinguished 
efforts,  fairly  brilliant. 

I  knew  he  must  be  going  somewhere  by  the  way  the  lines  ran.  I 
thought  he  must  be  going  a  fishing  for  there  were  lots  of  fins  tails  and 
fish-hooks.  But  where,  O  Roberto  !  that  was  the  question.  I  followed 
the  lines  in  hopes  they  might  terminate  at  the  destined  place.  But  no, 
they  did  not  terminate  at  all.  Instinctively  I  turned  over  the  leaf;  they 
were  running  still,  sliding  down  into  the  very  south-east  corner  of  the 
sheet,  and  the  doctor  stiU  paying  out. 

In  despair  I  took  the  back  track.  In  other  words  tried  to  read  the 
letter  backwards.  Tracing  my  way  slowly  back,  I  found  about  the  mid- 
dle of  the  letter  the  word  '  river'.     This  confirmed  me  in  the  notion  that 

*  From  Dr.  I.  Wlieatoa  Smith. 


the  Dr.  wa^  going  a  fishing,  for  it  seemed  to  me  a  river  would  be  a  very 
appropriate  place  for  it.  But  what  river?  Here  I  was  hung  up  again, 
till  glancing  on  I  made  out  with  difficulty  the  word  '  Lake.'  I  conject- 
ured that  the  river  must  empty  into  this  lake,  which  seemed  a  very  prop- 
er thing  for  a  river  to  do.  I  now  felt  tolerably  certain  the  Dr.  was  go- 
ing a  fishing  in  a  river  emptying  into  a  lake,  and  as  the  fishing  would 
naturally  be  somewhere  about  the  outlet,  I  was  pretty  sure  of  finding 
him.  But  ^vhat  lake,  I  could  not  divine.  The  best  I  could  make  of  it 
was  '  Jimco'.  I  had  never  heard  of  such  a  lake,  and  wondered  where 
it  could  be  ;  when  to  complete  my  wonderment  I  found  the  word  pre- 
ceding river  was  Seven.  Now,  thought  I,  if  there  are  seven  of  these 
rivers  emptying  into  Lake  '  Jimco',  the  Lord  only  knows  which  of  them 
the  Dr.  is  going  to  fish,  and  for  all  I  know  he  may  fish  Lake  '  Jimco' 

In  this  dilemma  your  letter  arrived,  and  with  aid  from  it  I  have  been 
able  to  translate  a  large  portion  of  the  Doctor's.  Now,  I  beg  of  you, 
don't  tell  the  Dr.  that  I  criticize  his  writing,  for,  just  as  likely  as  not,  in 
attempting  any  sudden  change  he  will  spoil  his  hand." 

In  the  early  part  of  September,  1848,  the  "Union  Magazine" 
was  purchased  by  John  Sartain.  Dr.  Bethune  was  offered 
one  hundred  dollars  per  month  to  edit  it.  This  offer  he  was 
under  the  necessity  of  declining,  and  contented  himself  with 
undertaking  to  supply  nine  articles  per  year  at  $50  per  ar- 
ticle. The  enterprising  purchasers  of  the  Magazine  would 
fain  have  bound  him  wholly  to  their  interests  by  a  promise 
not  to  write  for  other  periodicals,  but  they  did  not  succeed 
in  so  doing.  He  was,  however,  glad  to  have  it  to  say  that 
he  was  writing  for  one  Monthly,  in  order  to  resist  the  im- 
portunities of  others. 

Aunt  Betsey's  fireside  lectures  began  to  appear  in  the 
latter  part  of  the  year  1849.  These  lectures  which  appeared 
in  the  "  Union  Magazine''  were  amusing  and  popular.  Aunt 
Betsey  was  a  real  personage,  a  favorite  aunt  of  Mrs.  BethunC; 
whom  he  knew  and  loved  right  well. 

238  MEMOIR    OF    GEO.    W.    BETIIUNE,    D.  D. 

"  The  advice  of  the  Laird  of  Dumbiedykes'  father  may  be 
applied"  writes  the  author  to  his  mother,  "  with  a  little 
change  to  a  book  intended  to  do  good.  '  Be  aye  preparing 
to  print  such  books,  for  they  do  good  wliile  you  are  sleeping  ; 
far  away  from  your  immediate  sphere,  and  even  after  you 
are  dead.'  I  am,  it  is  true,  by  no  means  great  at  authorship, 
but  have  the  consolation  of  knowing  that  my  books  have 
done  some   good.'' 

We  present  a  specimen  of  Aunt  Betsey's  circle  as  talking 
from  Sartain. 

"We  are  a  quiet  family  of  a  half  dozen;  my  excellent  sister  and  her 
excellent  husband,  the  one  a  steady,  sensible  notable  housewife,  the 
other  a  zealous  gentleman  farmer,  whose  purse  suffers  occsaionally 
from  his  promising  experiments ;  their  daughter  Kate,  in  the  bloom  of 
seventeen,  light-hearted  and  bright-minded,  not  the  less  winning  for  be- 
ing not  a  little  mischievous,  as  Kates  always  are;  their  son  Tom,  two 
years  older,  somewhat  of  a  coxcomb,  but  a  good  fellow  at  bottom,  who 
is  dubbed  a  law-student,  from  spending  a  few  hours  a  week  in  'Squire 
Lackbrief  s  office  ;  Aunt  Betsey,  my  mother's  older  and  only  sister ;  and 
myself,  familiarly  called  Uncle  Tom,  of  whom  the  less  said  the  better,  a 
confirmed  bachelor,  and  less  fond  of  talking  than  using  my  pen,  though 
it  is  of  little  use,  except  in  recording  such  scraps  of  second-hand  wis- 
dom as  I  hear  from  others. 

Nov.  10,  18 — .  This  afternoon  Tom  returned  from  town,  bringing 
Kate  a  letter,  crossed  and  recrossed  in  a  m.inute,  faint-inked  chirography, 
from  a  quondam  schoolmate  of  hers,  now  a  dashing  belle.  Kate's  brow 
flushed,  and  her  hands  trembled  with  excitement  as  she  read  the  epistle 
under  the  lamp;  '  What  is  it  my  child?'  said  her  mother.  Kate  read 
on  to  the  last  word  of  the  glossy,  rose-colored  sheet;  and  then,  drawing 
her  chair  between  my  sister  and  Aunt  Betsey,  she  began  : 

'  Only  think,  Fanny  Fryer  says  that  old  IMiss  Meddler  told  her  that '  — 
Here  she  sunk  her  voice  so  low  that  Tom  and  I  (his  father  was  deep  in 

the  account  of  a  cattle  sale)  could  only  catch  —  '  Mrs you  know 

Miss  ....  that  married  the  rich  brewer's  son  only  two  years  ago  .... 
Major.  .  .  .  used  to  be  her  lover.  .  .  .  father  broke  off  the  match  .  .  .  . 


came  back  fi'om  Europe  ....  constantly  walking  together  ....  fam- 
ily consultaticn  .  •  .  .  likely  to  be  a  duel  .  .  .  .  everybody  talking  about 
it  ....  hushed  up  ...  .  must  not  say  anything  to  any  one,  at  least 
that  she  told  me ' 

*Eie  !  Fie  !  my  dearie,  what  does  thee  fash  thy  bonny  head  with  such 
bletherin'  malice.  It's  no  becoming  a  lassie  like  thee,  or  any  lady,  to 
file  her  tongue  with  tales  like  that.  The  evilest  sign  of  a  woman,  I  know, 
is  being  given  to  scandal.' 

(Aunt  Betsey  was  regularly  set  in  for  a  fireside  lecture.) 

'  Old  Dr.  McCreechie  of  the  Tollbooth-kirk,  never  said  a  truer  word, 
than  that  a  "scandalous  tongue  always  showed  a  licentious  heart  "  ;  for 
"out  of  the  fulness  of  the  heart  the  mouth  speaketh",  and  it  is  only  out 
of  an  evil  heart  that  evil  things  can  come.  Charity,  Avhich  is  a  complete 
name  for  all  goodness,  just  as  Love  is  the  name  of  God  —  "  thinketh  no 

'  But  aunt,  dear  aunty,'  put  in  the  blushing  Kate,  '  when  people  expose 
themselves,  surely  charity  '  — 

'  Is  not  easily  provoked,  dearie,  which,  though  I  don't  know  the  oreeg- 
inal,  means,  I  suppose,  is  not  easily  suspicious  of  evil,  sees  everything 
in  the  best  light,  makes  every  possible  allowance,  and  even  imagines  ex- 
cuses it  cannot  see,  because  "  it  rejoiceth  not  in  iniquity",  — hates  the 
very  sight  and  thought  of  crime,  and  if  it  cannot  discover  innocence, 
turns  its  bonny  eye  away  up  to  heaven  with  a  tear  in  it,  as  a  prayer  for 
the  sinner's  pardon  to  our  heavenly  Father,  who  "  pitieth  our  infirmities, 
and  rememboreth  that  we  are  but  dust".  So  should  thee  do,  my  darling. 
If  our  good  God  looked  at  our  evil,  "  who  could  stand  ?  "  and  it  aye  seems 
to  me  like  a  defying  Him  who  is  ever  hearing  what  we  say,  to  speak  of 
our  neighbour's  faults,  because  the  Saviourhas  told  us  we  shall  be  meas- 
ured by  our  own  stoup.  I  have  heard  ministers  say  that  the  name  of 
the  devil  is  accuser,  and  we  know  that  he  was  a  liar  from  the  beginning, 
so  that  wickedness,  lying  and  scandal  make  up  his 'character  ;  and  your 
scandalizers  are  just  like  the  little  devils  that  the  muckle  de'il  uses  to 
do  his  mischief  with. 

'But  when  our  Lord  came  to  destroy  the  works  of  the  devil,  and  set  us 
a  pattern  of  a  good  man,  he  became  the  friend  of  sinners,  because  lie 
pitied  them,  and  interceded  for  their  pardon.  How  much  must  God  hate 
to  hear  us  talking  scandal,  like  the  devil  !  How  much  must  He  love  to 
hear  us  talking  kindly,  and  gently,  and  meekly,   like   his  well-beloved 

238  MEMOm   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

Son  !  When  the  Blessed  One  -ivas  upon  earth,  his  words  were  all  mer- 
ciful, except  to  those  who  tliought  themselves  better  than  others,  and 
spoke  evil  of  them  ;  tliat  was  enough  to  prove  that  they  were  desperate- 
ly wicked  themselves,  because  it  was  so  unlike  our  Father  in  Heaven- 
They  made  a  great  pretence  of  goodness,  but  they  were  hypocrites,  just 
white-washed  sepulchres.  Do  you  no  mind  when  they  brought  to  him 
the  poor  fallen  misdoer,  and  she  lay  silent  in  the  dust  at  his  holy  feet, 
without  a  word  to  say,  in  the  sorrows  of  her  shame,  how  he  bid  the  one 
without  sin  to  cast  the  first  stone  ?  There  was  but  One  without  sin 
among  tliat  company,  and  He  just  bid  her  "  go  and  sin  no  more." 

Indeed,  and  indeed  Dr.  McCreechie  was  right,  there  is  ahvays  a  licen- 
tious heart  where  there  is  a  scandalous  tongue ;  it  is  they  who  love  the 
sin  that  love  to  talk  about  it,  and  they,  who  know  they  would  not  resist 
temptation,  that  are  most  ready  to  think  another  has  not.  Their  imagi- 
nations are  just  like  the  black  corbie  that  Noah  sent  out  of  the  ark, 
scenting  the  dead  and  the  lo.athsome,  and  flying  to  glut  themselves  with 
what  is  vile  ;  but  let  yours,  lassie,  be  like  the  sweet  silver-winged  dove 
that  came  back  with  the  green  branch  of  hope  in  her  bill.  The  world  is 
bad  enow,  but  God  loves  it,  and  his  Son  died  for  it,  and  it  is  yet  to  be 
like  another  heaven  ;  and  there's  many  a  green  branch  for  the  dove,  if 
there  be  many  a  dead  thing  for  the  corbie.  It  was  like  a  dove  that  the 
Spirit  came  down  to  the  Saviour,  and  without  the  spirit  of  a  dove  we  can 
never  fly  up  to  him. 

'  Xever  be  like  a  corbie,  Katie  dear,  except  it  be  to  those  that  God 
clianged  from  their  nature,  and  sent  to  carry  bread  to  his  hungry  saint. 
Mistress  "Wheatfiold  (Aunt  Betsey  is  scrupulous  in  giving  my  sister  her 
matronly  title,  as  honour  due  to  the  female  head  of  the  family),  if  I  am  a 
wee  bit  hard  on  the  lassie  its  no'  in  unkindness.  But,  'deed,  our  Katie 
is  just  like  the  rest  of  us,  the  descendant  of  old  Adam,  and,  what  for 
should  I  not  say,  a  daughter  of  old  Eve  ?  for  she  it  was  that  the  devil 
threw  his  glamour  over,  and  the  pleasant  voice  of  his  bonny  bride  led 
the  man  astray. 

'  The  Apostle  calls  woman  the  weaker  vessel,  but  he  himself  tells  u.s 
that  God  puts  strength  into  weak  things,  and  women  are  strong  for  good, 
but  may  be  also,  as  all  know,  strong  for  evil.  As  you  train  the  lassie, 
you  make  the  wife  and  mother ;  and  the  hand  that  rocks  the  cradle  rules 
the  world,  as  some  one  says. 

*  We  are  over-fond  of  talking  about  the  dignity  of  the  sex,  and  unvrill- 


ing  to  show  that  womayi  can  do  wrong,  in  the  same  breath  that  we  con- 
demn women  for  doing  wrong.  Let  Katie  wear  the  ornaments  of  a  meek 
ajid  quiet  spirit , which  are  of  more  price  in  God's  sight  than  pearlings 
or  diamonds.  It's  more  than  foil}''  to  say  out  in  tlie  church  that  we  are 
"miserable  sinners  ",  and  tbat  "  there's  no  in  us  "  and  after  each 
commandment  "  Lord  liaA^e  mercy  upon  us,  and  incline  our  hearts  to 
keep  this  law";  and  then,  at  our  firesides,  draw  ourselves  up  as  if  we 
could  not  fall  into  the  sin  which  others  have  fallen  into.  Human  na- 
ture is  a  poor  frail  thing,  and  the  more  we  tbink  so  of  it,  tlie  more  chari- 
table will  we  be  toward  our  fellow-sinners,  and  the  more  humble  our- 
selves. ''The  beginning  of  strife  is  like  the  letting  out  of  water",  and  so 
is  die  beginning  ot  an  evil  habit.  If  you  do  not  stop  it  at  the  first,  the 
tide  will  soon  be  too  strong  for  you.  Katie  has  never  talked  scandal  in 
my  hearing  before,  and  I  am  fain  to  keep  her  from  ever  talking  it 

*  But  dear,  good,  precious  Aunt  Betsey,'  half-sobbed  Katie,  *  I  only — ' 
'Yes,  dearie,  you  only  —  Miss   Meddler  only  told  Fanny  Pryer,  and 

Fanny  Tryer  onhj  wrote  to  you  ,  and  you  onli/  told  us,  and  if  we  oiily 
went  on  telling  others,  and  they  others,  the  character  of  these  people, 
who  may  be  as  innocent  as  lambs,  would  be  ruined.  Just  bring  it  home, 
and  think  what  it  is  to  have  one's  fair  character  stained  in  such  a  way  I 
We  would  not  be  thieves,  yet  we  take  away  wliat  no  gold  or  silver  could 
buy  or  redeem ;  we  would  not  be  murderers,  yet  we  break  the  hearts  of 
our  fellow-beings  with  shame  ;  and  this  by  07iJt/  repeating  what  malice 
dared  first  onli/  whisper  in  a  single  ear — until  every  one  hears  of  it,  and, 
then  we  excuse  ourselves  by  saying,  "  the  thing  is  so  public  that  it  is 
the  talk  of  the  town"! 

*  Don't  tell  me  that  circumstances  are  so  strong  as  to  make  the  thing 
certain.  Such  is  the  time  for  Charity  to  plead;  for  she  '•  hopeth  all 
tlungs  ".  Tom  there  can  tell  —  that  many  a  man  has  been  condemned  on 
circumstantial  evidence,  whose  innocence  afterward  was  *'  brought  fortli 
as  the  light ".  Our  good  house-dog  Faithful,  that  Tom  shot,  —  because  a 
bheep  was  killed,  and  the  dumb  beast,  that  could  not  speak  for  himself, 
came  home  bloody  about  tlie  mouth,  — had  been  but  defending  his  mas- 
ter's flock  from  the  strange  mastiif  that  was  found  the  next  day  dead  be- 
hind the  stone-dyke;  and  all  our  sorrow  can  never  bring  back  to  our 
ear  the  deep  bark  at  midnight  that  told  us  the  sleepless  sentinel  was  on 

240  MEMOIPw   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

his  round.  How  sorry  should  we  be,  when  this  story  of  the 's  turns  out 

false,  if  we  have  allowed  ourselves  for  a  moment  to  think  so  ill  of  them, 
much  more,  if  we  have  led  others  to  do  so.  One,  who  knows  men's 
hearts  better  than  we  can  know  them,  has  left  a  blessing  for  those, 
against  whom  '■  all  men  speak  all  manner  of  evil  falsely  for  his  sake  " ;  so 
the  world  treated  the  prophets  and  apostles  :  and  so  they  crucified  the 
spotless  Lamb  of  God.  Never,  then,  think  a  scandal  must  be  true  be- 
cause all  the  world  tells  it.  One  little  tongue,  that  is  "set  on  Sre  of 
hell,"  may  set  the  world  on 

'Even  if  the  scandalized  people  are  guilty,  we  are  not  called  on  to  be 
their  executioners.  A  hangman  is  always  held  infamous  by  the  general 
prejudice ;  but  they  are  worthy  of  infamy  who  perform  that  oiHce  as 

'  The  devil  has  not  so  cloven  a  foot,  but  he  may  wear  a  kid  slipper; 
yes,  and  he  can  write  letters  on  rose-coloured  paper,  Katie,  though  they 

smell  of  musk  instead  of  brimstone And  now,  Katie,  my 

darling,'  said  Aunt  Eetsey  as  she  rose  up,  and  then  bent  her  stately 
head  to  kiss  our  pet  on  her  wet  cheeks,  '  go  your  ways  ;  and  when  you 
repeat  the  Lord's  Prayer  to-night,  pause  to  think  what  you  mean  as  you 
say : 

''Forgive  us  our  trespasses,  as  we  forgive  those  who  trespass  against 
us,  and  lead  us  not  into  temptation,  but  deliver  us  from  evil !  '  " 

Here  Jonas  came  in  with  our  little  supper,  v/hich  we  are  too  fond  of 
old-fashioned  comforts  to  miss,  and  Aunt  Betsey's  lecture  on  scandal 
was  finished." 

We  must  again  pass  over  cursorily  nearly  a  year  of  time, 
and  a  vast  mass  of  correspondence.  The  time  is  without 
incident,  and  the  correspondence  of  the  usual  character. 

If  any  man  in  a  prominent  position  would  take  the  trouble 
to  keep  a  register  of  all  the  irrelevant,  and  impertinent  let- 
ters which  he  receives,  what  an  amazing  list  it  would  be. 
What  a  drain  upon  his  pocket  to  pa}^  the  postage  of  the  an- 
swers ;  what  a  heavy  tax  in  stationery.  What  hours  of 
precious  time  consumed  in  deciphering  their  ignoble  callig- 


raphy,    and   consigning  them   to  the  waste-paper  basket. 
How  many  scores   of  people   to   be  gratified  with  an  auto- 
graph and  a  sentiment,  who  have  not  the  good  breeding  to 
enclose  a  stamp  in   the   letter   of  application.     How  many 
whom  he  has  never  heard  of  desire  introductions  to  those 
he  has  never  seen.     How  many  desire  to  be  put  in  places 
which   could  by  no  possibility  be  in    his    gift.     How  many 
want  his  money  on  the  simple    pretext  that  he  has  it  and 
they  have   not.     How  difficult,  always,  to   say  no,  civilly, 
and  how  impossible  in  ninety-nine    cases    out  of  a  hundred 
to  say  yes.     Such  letters  and  such    annoyances,  are  the  in- 
evitable penalty  of  position.     The  careful  wife  of  the  sub- 
ject of  our  memoirs,  kept  all  her  husband's  letters,  and 
filed  them  duly  away.     We  are,  therefore,  admitted  to  the 
privilege  of  contemplating  a  small  mountain   of  epistolary 
matter  ;  each  letter  of  which  is  amply  done  justice  to,  with 
a  single  glance,  if  "  fair  writ,''  or  certainly  consigned  to 
oblivion,  when  ten  minutes'   strain   upon  the   optic  nerve 
lias   been   given    to   illegible   incoherence.      One    sensitive 
creature  has  been  startled,  in  the  stillness  of  his  room,  by  a 
white  dove  that  ''perched  above  the  chamber  door"  ;  im- 
mediately thereafter,  he  fell  into  an  illness,  and,   on  conva- 
lescing, wrote  to  Dr.  Bethune  for  a  piece  of  poetry  suited 
to  this  interesting  and  inscrutable  circumstance.     Another, 
more  importunate,  has  a  country  parish,  must  drive  about, 
and  is  so  afraid  of  a  horse  that  his  life  is  a  burden  to  him. 
He   pathetically  prays  our  Doctor  to    procure  him    a   post 
where  he  will   not  have  to  ride  or  drive.     A    third    coolly 
asks  him  to  revise  a  work  for  the  press,  but  makes  no  men- 
tion of  a  cheque  in  payment.     There  are  many  letters  anent 
the  Thousand   Islan'd  Church.     There  are  outpourings  of 

242  MEMOIR   OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

the  heart  on  matters  personal  and  religious  ;  there  are  in- 
vitations to  preach,  and  announcements  of  honorary  elec- 
tions ;  and,  by  the  time  we  reach  the  missive  which  sets  forth 
its  writer's  opinion,  that  "  the  yankees  have  thick  epider- 
mides,'^  we  shall  have  arrived  at  material  for  narrative. 

We  are  now  to  chronicle  another  great  change  in  our  min- 
ister's life,  in  his  departure  from  Philadelphia,  the  reasons 
for  which  are  fully  set  forth  in  an  elaborate  paper  of  resig- 
nation, to  the  consistory  of  his  church.  It  is  dated  Brook- 
lyn, August  28,  1849. 

The  great  cause  for  removal  was  the  necessity  of  Mrs. 
Bethune's  health,  and  his  duty  as  a  faithful  husband.  She 
had  been  compelled  to  remove  to  Brooklyn,  and  her  fre- 
quent and  painful  attacks  had  constantly  distracted  the  pas- 
tor's mind  and  heart : 

"  I  have  never  been  more  sensible,"  he  -writes,  '•  than  I  am  at  present, 
indeed,  never  have  I  felt  so  keenly  the  obligations  under  which  I  am,  to 
you  and  your  congregation.  I  recall,  Arith  hearty  gratitude,  the  gener- 
ous devotion  of  the  little  band,  who  began  the  enterprise  of  building  the 
clu;rch  under  God  for  me.  I  recall,  though  I  cannot  sufficiently  esti- 
mate, their  devoted  zeal,  courage,  perseverance  and  liberality,  among 
the  dark  and  difficult  times  of  its  earlier  history.  I  recall  the  prompt- 
ness with  which  they,  and  those  in  later  times  associated  with  them, 
have  always  met  their  engagements  with  me ;  and  the  very  liberal  man- 
ner in  which  they  have  ministered  to  my  necessity  and  comfort  beyond 
my  claims  upon  them,  especially  when  they  enabled  me  to  go  abroad 
for  my  health,  advancing  me  my  salary  when  I  was  absent,  and  during 
the  same  time  paying  for  the  supply  of  the  pulpit ;  and  again  more  re- 
cently, in  a  munificent  present  as  a  token  of  their  regard,  on  Christmas 
last.  I  recall  the  forbearance  and  earnest  friendship  shewn  me  during 
the  bitterest  trials  of  my  ministerial  life,  when,  on  returning,  sick  and 
feeble  from  abroad,  I  found  myself  assailed  by  persecutions  from  those 
whom  I  would  have  died  to  serve.  I  recall  the  ever  ready  welcome 
Avhich  has  met  me  on  the  threshhold  of  every  household,  from  every  in- 


dividual  of  tlie  congregation.  Very  fondly  have  I  loved  my  people,  and 
I  know  that  I  have  been  loved  in  return,  notwithstanding  my  infirmities 
my  errors  and  my  faults.  I  have  ever  felt  as  if  my  congregation  Avas  to 
me  as  a  family.  I  am  deeply  sensible  of  my  many  deficiencies,  but  the 
more  grateful  for  their  aftection,  which  has  been  granted  to  me  notwith- 
standing them  all. 

In  these  circumstances,  I  feel,  and  I  tliink  you  should  feel,  tliat  noth- 
ing short  of  necessity  could  sever  the  bond  between  us.  It  is  nothing 
less  than  the  hand  of  God  that  dissolves  our  union,  and  to  his  Providence 
we  should  humbly  submit,  because  what  God  does  is  wise  and  right.  Nei- 
ther ambition,  nor  avarice,  nor  love  of  ease,  seduce  me  from  you.  Such 
motives  I  have  more  than  once  cheerfully  resigned  for  your  sake.  I  ex- 
pect, on  my  separation  from  you,  to  take  charge  of  a  feeble,  much  dilap- 
idated church,  which  has  appealed  to  me  for  help,  to  save  them  from 
dissolution.  I  never  expect  to  be  so  happy  with  another  church,  or  to 
find  such  another  people  as  that  wliich  my  heart  loves  the  more  tenderly, 
as  I  must  tear  myself  from  it.  As  I  have  been  writing,  my  mind's  eye 
has  been  going  from  pew  to  pew,  from  person  to  person,  seeing  each 
familiar  face,  receiving  the  greeting  of  each  familiar  voice.  Brethren 
and  friends,  I  could  not  tear  myself  from  you  unless  I  were  compelled  to 
do  so." 

He  then  proceeds  to  show  that  no  expedient  will  obviate 
the  necessity  of  this  separation,  and  considers  its  probable 
effect  npon  the  coDgregation.  Fears  are  entertained  that 
the  people  will  be  scattered,  but  he  says  : 

"  Much  will  depend  on  the  prompt  action  of  the  consistory  and 
Board  of  Trustees,  in  supplying  the  vacant  pulpit,  by  doing  which,  they 
may  not  merely  prevent  people  from  going  away,  but  also  induce  others 
to  join  with  you.  For  this  reason,  let  me  earnestly  advise  that  as  soon 
as  possible,  you  decide  upon  calling  some  well-known  and  esteemed 
minister,  without  waiting  until  the  congregation  are  distracted  by  various 
preferences,  which  would  inevitably  be  the  case,  should  you  throw  open 
your  pulpit  to  candidates.  Besides,  such  a  minister  as  you  should  de- 
cide to  have,  would  be  far  more  likely  to  accept  a  call  when  promptly 
and  unanimously  given,  than  after  a  delay.  It  is  also,  believe  me,  a 
very  poor  way  to  judge  of  a  preacher's  quahfications,  on  hearing  once 

244  MEMOIR  OF  GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

or  twice  in  the  pulpit.  It  is  far  better  to  choose  one  whom  you  have 
never  seen,  if  he  has  the  high  esteem  of  his  brethren  as  a  faithful  and 
able  minister  of  the  New  Testament.  The  intense  anxiety  I  feel,  and 
shall  continue  to  feel  in  your  future  welfare,,  must  be  my  excuse  for  not 
waiting  until  my  advice  is  asked  before  I  give  it ;  and  I  dare  to  hope 
that  if  you  act  promptly,  all,  by  the  blessing  of  God,  will  be  more  than 
well.  When  the  necessary  formalities  are  gone  through  with,  I  shall, 
with  the  permission  of  Providence,  go  to  Philadelphia,  and  attempt  to 
utter  my  farewell.  Commending  you  to  God,  and  the  bond  of  his 
grace,  and  assuring  each  of  you  of  my  grateful  and  undying  affection, 
I  am, 

Your  servant  in  the  Gospel  of  Christ, 

Geo.  W.  Bethune." 

The  receipt  of  this  communication  was  bewailed,  but  its 
arguments  could  not  be  resisted.  A  crowd  of  letters  from 
all  sorts  of  people  testify  the  golden  opinions  which  had 
been  won : 

*' Your  letter  and  resignation,"  writes  Captain  G.  D.  Magruder,  6th  of 
September,  "was  read  to  a  crowded  lecture-room  on  Monday  night. 
Many  tears  were  shed,  and  the  deepest  sorrow  manifested  by  the  people, 
but  not  a  word  of  censure  or  blame  did  I  hear  from  any  quarter ;  there 
was  a  disposition  not  to  receive  your  resignation,  supposing  a  '  leave  of 
absence  for  three  or  six  months  would  answer  your  purpose,'  but  when 
told  that  this  course  had  been  proposed  to  you,  there  was  a  sorrowful 
acquiescence  to  the  decrees  of  Providence,  which  seemed  unendurable. 
That  some  small  portion  of  the  congregation  will  be  induced  to  leave 
the  church  in  her  present  distress,  is  more  than  probable,  but  that  there 
will  be  anything  like  a  general  defection,  I  have  no  idea.  The  very  cir- 
cumstances of  our  trouble  in  parting  from  a  pastor  so  justly  cherished  by 
us  all,  will  draw  more  closely  the  bonds  of  union  between  those  who  love 
the  cause  of  the  Master,  the  great  Head  of  the  Church." 

Another  dear  friend  writes  under  the  same  date  : 

"My  Dear  Dominie:  How  shall  I  tell  you   of  our  grief?     My 
thoughts  come  slowly  and  my  words,  also,  when  I  attempt  to  give 


language  to  that  which  our  hearts  so  deeply  feel.     We  have  for  weeks 
been  endeavoring  to  resign  ourselves  to  the  necessity  of  a  separation 
which  we  knew  to  be  inevitable,  and  thought  we  had  in  a  measure  sue- 
ceeded ;  but  when  it  was  announced  that  you  had  actually  determined 
upon  it,  we   discovered  how  illy  we  were  prepared.     Whatever  may 
have  been  our  shortcomings  and  neglects  of  duty  while  you  were  still 
with  us,  whatever  apparent  coldness  there  may  have  been,  all  now  is 
love  and  sorrow.     I  cannot  bear  to  realize  that  your  ministrations 
amongst  us  are  at  an  end ;  and  I  fear,  however  much  you  may  depre- 
cate such  a  consequence,  that  the  church  will  never  recover  from  the 
effects  of  your  loss.     You  cannot  wonder  that  such  should  be  the  case, 
for  your  congregation  is,   in  a  peculiar  manner,  made  up  of  members 
drawn  together  by  personal  attachment  to  you ;  admiration  of  your 
eloquence  attracting  them  to  the  church,  and  love  of  yourself  settling 
them  there.     Your  endeavor  has  always  been  to  make  them  good 
Christians,  rather  than  sectarians.     Is  it  strange  then  that,  if  any  have 
previously  had  a  preference  for  another  form  of  worship,  they  should 
desire  to  return  to  it  now  that  you  have  left.^  " 

In  1848  he  received  an  attractive  invitation  to  a  new 
Presbyterian  enterprise  in  Baltimore,  which  was  declined. 
In  the  same  year  he  delivered  the  Oration  before  the  Phi 
Beta  Kappa  of  Dartmouth  College.  It  may  be  well  to  add 
that,  in  each  congregation,  Dr.  B's  affectionate  nature  would 
lead  him  to  take  into  closest  counsel  some  sympathizing 
friend  ;  and  as  Mrs.  Peter  R.  Livingston  was  at  Rhinebeck,  so 
was  Mrs.  Langdon  Elwyn  in  Philadelphia,  a  second  mother. 
Thus  we  reach  in  this  memoir,  what  mathematicians  call  a 
''special  point;''  we  mean  the  removal  to  Brooklyn  as 
stated  supply  to  the  Central  Reformed  Dutch  Church. 

Dr.  Bethune  had  now  attained  the  zenith  of  his  fame,  and 
it  will  not  be  rash  to  say  stood  foremost  among  our  popular 
speakers.  Facile  princeps  in  his  own  denomination  the 
whole  body  of  Christians  were  ready  to  do  him  honor.  Not 
only  well  known  in  various  paths  of  literature,  his  influence 

246  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETIIUNE,    D.  D. 

was  constantly  sought  by  political  aspirants.  "  For  a  bit 
of  innocent  mischief/'  as  Thackera}^  says,  we  present  an 
idea  of  the  number  and  kind  of  communications  which  he 
received  and  answered.  First  comes  a  formula,  terse  and 
practical,  to  secure  from  a  distinguished  citizen  his  auto- 

Rey.  George  Bethune,  D.D.  "  New  York,   Oct.  29,   1819. 

Dear  Sir:  I  employ  all  my  leisure  time  in  the  collection  of  a.uto- 
graphs.  I  am  a  clerk  in  a  wholesale  house  in  this  city,  and  am  con- 
sequently at  work  through  the  day.  The  evenings  are  mine  ov/n. 
Occasionally  what  is  termed  a  dull  day  comes,  when  I  may  sit  down 
and  follow  mine  inclination.  Then  I  endeavour  to  possess  myself  of 
the  autographs  of  the  great  men  of  mine  own  and  of  other  countries. 
I  have  been  thus  employed  for  three  months  only ;  during  which  time 
I  have  heen  very  fortunate ;  since  I  have  obtained  communications 
from  so  great  men  as  Pierpont,  Tyng,  Potts,  Cone,  Beecher,  Magoun, 
Sprague,  and  many  more  of  like  caliber.  I  have,  too,  the  autographs 
of  Clay,  of  our  own  dear  country  ;  and  of  Lamartine  of  France.  The 
former  is,  perhaps,  one  of  the  greatest  men  of  our  time.  The  latter,  I 
think,  is  the  greatest,  because  the  best,  man,  that  has  lived  in  France 
since  Lafayette.  But  this  is  a  matter  of  opinion.  I  have  the  signa- 
tures of  some  twenty  of  the  most  celebrated  clergymen,  of  all  denomi- 
nations, excepting  one,  in  this  country.  I  am  sorry  that  I  could  not 
attend  upon  your  anniversary  address  last  evening.  You  will  receive 
this  communication  from  a  member  of  your  church  with  whom  I  am 
acquainted.  If  it  shall  be  your  pleasure  to  transmit  your  autograph 
to  me,  through  him,  or  in  any  other  way,  I  shall  be  much  obliged. 

Assuring  you  of  ray  respect  and  esteem,  I  have  the  pleasure  to  be 
respectfully  yours, 

J.  T.  P . 

My  address  is  No.  1  Rutger's  Street,  in  this  city." 

At  the  risk  of  wearying  our  readers  we  shall  try  to  give 
some  idea  of  the  demands  made  upon  a  popular  preacher's 
time,  outside  of  the  duties  of  his  office.  The  following  ap- 
plications were  made  to  Dr.   Bethune  in  the  course  of  a 


year.  Nine  literary  societies  of  different  colleges  request 
addresses  ;  two  theological  societies  ask  similar  favors  ; 
the  Clmrcli  at  Saugerties  asks  a  sermon  at  the  laying  of 
corner-stone  at  Harlingen,  and  at  its  dedication  ;  that  of 
Southwarkj  a  lecture  to  pay  its  debts  ;  and  that  of  Geason, 
a  charge  to  its  new  pastor  ;  and  six  other  churches  desire 
sermons  upon  various  grounds  ;  one  person  wishes  him  to 
come  to  Marbletown  and  preach  for  a  cliurch  that  is  yet  in 
the  womb  of  the  future  ;  four  Tract,  two  Bible,  four  Sun- 
day school,  one  Sabbath,  and  three  Colonization  Associations 
put  in  their  claims  ;  fourteen  Institutes,  or  Lyceums,  de- 
mand lectures.  Of  more  important  claims,  the  New  England 
Society,  the  Union  Safety  Committee,  American  Dramatic 
Fund  Association,  Demonstration  of  respect  to  Mr.  J.  Fen- 
nimore  Cooper,  and  the  Smithsonian  Institute,  each  has  a 
place.  Only  one  Seamen's  Friend  Society  calls  for  help,  but 
the  people  at  Biloxi,  Miss.,  have  devised  a  subscription  plan 
which  Dr.  Bethune  is  to  advance  ;  one  young  minister 
would  like  instruction  in  the  art  of  reading  ;  Dr.  K. 
wants  a  sermon  printed  ;  Mrs.  0.  appeals  for  the  Or- 
phan Asylum  ;  the  young  ladies  of  Heidelberg  Hall  would 
be  entertained  ;  the  steamer  Lafayette  needs  a  speech  on  its 
trial  trip  ;  the  biographer  of  Eev.  \7alter  Colton  petitions 
for  material ;  a  stranger  requests  a  copy  of  Fourth  of 
July  Address  ;  Mr.  R.  heard  Dr.  Bethune  lecture  two 
years  ago,  and  thinks  that  sufficient  basis  on  which  to 
demand  an  introduction  to  Hon.  Daniel  Webster;  a  dis- 
ciple of  Coke  and  Justinian,  who  quotes  Latin  freely, 
pleads  for  a  copy  of  address  ;  an  illegible  writer  from  Keo- 
kuk has  something  to  say  about  his  son  George  and  West 
Point ;  a  youth  in  the  Navy  wishes  Dr.  Bethune  to  have 
him  ordered  on  shore  ;  the  Teachers  and  Friends  of  Educa- 

248  MEMOIU    OF    GEO.    \>\    EETHUxNE,    D.   D. 

tion  at  Somerville,  N.  J.,  want  to  hear  the  Brooklyn  pastor ; 
Mr.  B.  wants  Dr.  B.  to  give  a  sermon,  as  the  petitioner 
is  unable  to  do  it ;  Mr.  Y.  wishes  to  lecture  before  a 
Sunday  school  Association,  for  purposes  of  his  own,  and 
the  Doctor  is  to  help  him  ;  the  Navy  man  appears  again  ; 
a  gentleman  of  Wihnington,  Delaware,  wishes  aid  in  pub- 
lishing a  book  that  will  enable  him  to  support  and  educate 
two  dear  little  boys  ;  the  Literary  World  defines  its  posi- 
tion and  asks  support  ;  J.  C.  Guldin  desires  to  know  what 
is  the  date  of  Paraeus'  lectures  on  Ursinus,, owned  by  Dr. 
B.  ;  a  cautious  architect  would  find  the  prevailing  taste  of 
a  congregation  for  which  he  is  to  design  a  church  ;  Rev. 
Dr.  B.  is  introduced,  a  missionary  whom  Dr.  Bethune 
is  to  entertain  in  the  German  tongue  ;  Mr.  H.  leaves 
his  MSS.  for  recommendation  and  criticisms,  and  the  Min- 
nesota Historical  Society  desire  this  overworked  man  to 
come  and  see  them.  The  list  might  be  continued  up  to  one 
hundred  and  fifty  requests  for  important  aid  in  the  space  of 
a  twelvemonth  ;  and  they  come  up  from  all  parts  of  the  land, 
from  Maine  to  Georgia,  and  from  the  Atlantic  far  beyond 
the  Mississippi. 




The  middle  of  May,  1850,  brought  another  change  to  Dr. 
Bethune,  and  one  that  has  already  been  slightly  men- 
tioned. The  steps  towards  this  change  are  peifectly  well 
described  in  the  original  papers  : 

J.  H.  Brower  and  others,  to  Dr.  Bethune. 

"Brooklyn,  Maij  15,  1850. 

Keverend  and  Dear  Sir:  After  much  reflection,  and  we  trust 
under  the  guidance  of  the  great  Head  of  tlie  Church,  we  have  consid- 
ered it  our  duty  to  lay  before  you  in  form  the  following  suggestions  and 

You  cannot  but  be  aware  of  having  a  number  of  friends,  who  ear- 
nestly and  sincerely  desire  your  permanent  settlement  in  this  city.  As 
a  nucleus,  and  to  make  a  basis  of  action,  we  have  taken  it  upon  our- 
selves to  call  upon  you  in  this  way,  in  the  hope  you  may  consider  our 
overtures,  and  that  the  Supreme  Director  may  guide  your  steps 

While  the  city  of  Brooklyn  is  proverbial  for  the  many  and  well-sup« 
ported  churches  of  several  denominations,  it  must  be  manifest  to  you 
that  those  of  our  denomination  have  not  been  conspicuous,  nor  emi- 
nently successful  among  them.  It  may  not  be  well  to  venture  upon  any 
reasons  for  this  ;  but,  seeing  the  fact,  rather  to  seek  the  path  of  duty,  to 
the  end,  with  God's  blessing  upon  our  efforts,  that  our  church  may  find 
a  more  elevated  position,  and  larger  sphere  of  usefulness  in  the  cause  of 
the  Redeemer. 

We  cannot  but  feel  it  was  through  God's  merciful  interposition  you 
came  to  Brooklyn,  and  for  several  months  past  have  so  faithfully  minis- 
tered in  spiritual  things  to  all  of  us,  and  many  others,  whereby  an  ex- 
piring lamp  has  begun  to  burn  brightly,  and  to  give  promise  of  still 
better  days.     It  is  true  we  cannot  yet  present  ourselves  to  you  in  the 

250  me:uoir  of  geo.  w.  eethune,  d.  d. 

matured  strength  Ave  could  wisli,  but  remembering  that  the  Saviour  took 
little  children  in  his  arms  and  blessed  them,  we  rely  in  faith  upon  a 
blessing  in  store  for  us,  if  we  prayerfully  seek  it,  and  for  His  glory 
combine  our  works  with  our  faitli. 

Our  already  large,  and  still  rapidly  increasing  population,  its  marked 
church-going  character,  and  highly  creditable  observance  of  the  Sabbath 
and  the  sanctuary,  seem  to  lay  before  us  an  ample  field  for  our  success ; 
therefore,  while  we  aim  to  include  the  congregation  of  the  Central 
church,  we  propose,  for  obvious  reasons,  to  take  up  an  entirely  new  en- 
terprise and  church  organization,  under  your  pastoral  charge  (if  you 
■will  authorize  it)  and  without  any  unnecessary  delay,  purchase  a  proper 
location,  procure  the  necessary  plans  to  be  adopted,  (all  with  your  good 
counsel  and  approval)  and  erect  a  church  edifice.  Towards  the  cost  of 
all  this,  we  are  prepared  to  guarantee,  by  our  own  subscriptions,  and  of 
such  others  as  we  may  be  enabled  to  associate  with  us,  a  sum  of  not 
less  than  twenty-five  thousand  dollars ;  and,  we  may  add,  as  the  result 
of  our  deliberations,  we  have  strong  confidence  that  any  debt  which  may 
remain  upon  the  property,  will  be  paid  off"  within  a  reasonable  time  after 
it  shall  be  ready  for  occupation. 

We  have  also  deliberated  upon  the  necessary  provision  to  be  made 
for  your  own  support  in  the  settlement  proposed,  and  feel  ourselves  jus- 
tified in  naming  the  sum  of  four  thousand  dollars  per  annum.  If  this 
latter  suggestion  may  seem  to  you  as  abruptly  approached,  or  out  of 
place  at  this  early  stage  of  our  overtures,  we  pray  you  will  excuse  it, 
when  we  say,  we  have  felt  it  to  be  a  connecting  link  in  the  chain  of  our 
duty,  to  assure  you  of  our  disposition  and  determination  to  provide  a 
comfortable  and  cheerful  fire-side  for  our  spiritual  teacher,  while  a 
bountiful  Providence  affords  such  to  ourselves. 

Having  now  laid  the  desires  of  our  hearts  and  purposes  of  our  hands 
before  you,  we  cheerfully  leave  ourselves  to  your  prayers,  and  the  an- 
swer you  shall  receive  from  on  high,  and  subscribe  ourselves.  Rev- 
erend and  Dear  Sir, 

Very  faithfully,  your  friends  and  servants, 

J.  H.  Bkower. 

A.  L.  Reid. 
John  T.  Mo  gee. 
Gerrit  Smith. 

B.  B.  Bltdenburgh." 


A  favorable  repl}^  was  sent,  and  now  that  a  new  church 
was  to  be  erected  involving-  large  responsibilities,  it  seemed 
a  good  occasion  for  another  tour  to  Europe,  which  would 
benefit  his  health,  and  strengthen  him  for  future  toil.  On 
the  28th  of  June,  he  sailed  in  the  Atlantic,  and  we  have 
the  following'  record  of  his  progress  : 

"Edinbuegii,  yl»^.  14,  1850. 
On  leaving  Liverpool,  I  went  almost  immediately  to  Ashbourne,  near 
Dovedale,  the  scene  of  the  Second  (Cotton's)  part  of  the  Complete 
Angler.  You  will  see  by  reading  it  over,  that  he  (Cotton)  comes  across 
Viator  and  brings  him  to  his  house.  Places  on  the  road  there  are  de- 
scribed, or  at  least  named ;  there  also  is  Dovedale,  so  called  from  the 
river  Dove  {i.  c.  in  Saxon  white,  whence  our  word  for  the  bird),  which 
flows  between  high  hills  or  mountains  lying  close  together ;  it  is 
a  strikingly  beautiful  and,  in  places,  sublime,  ravine.  Towards  the  head 
of  Dovedale  stands  Beresford  House,  the  residence  of  Cotton  the  Ang- 
ler, where  he  entertained  Father  Walton,  and  put  him  to  sleep  in  a  bed- 
room, the  chimney-piece  of  which  was  carved  on  each  side,  Avith  the  in- 
itials of  his  and  Walton's  name.  Now,  over  this,  to  me,  classic  ground, 
I  went  step  by  step,  and,  strange  to  say,  found  that  I  knew  much  more 
about  the  olden  times  of  the  country  than  the  people  themselves.  I  for- 
tunately fell  in  with  Shipley,  the  Angler,  whom  I  knew  by  his  book, 
which  1  have  had  for  several  years.  He  is  a  barber,  who  has  just  got 
£  300  a  year  by  the  will  of  his  uncle,  the  late  Vicar  of  Ashbourne.  I 
found  Beresford  Hall  in  a  most  shocking  condition,  all,  in  fact,  in  ruins, 
except  a  few  rooms ;  I  looked  for  the  chimney-piece  (spoken  of  above), 
but  it  cannot  be  found ;  I  did  find,  however,  the  fragments  bearing 
date  1G56,  and  have  got  enough  wood  from  each  of  them  for  a  landing 
net  handle.  Shipley  promises  that  he  can  get  for  me  the  iohacco  box  of 
Izaak  Walton,  which  he  says  has  been  in  a  family  he  knows  of  for  two 
generations.  He  may  be  mistaken,  but  if  I  acquire  it,  what  a  relic  it  will 

From  Ashbourne  I  came  through  Derby  to  York,  a  most  interesting 
old  city ;  old  walls,  old  churches,  old  houses,  on  every  side.  The  Min- 
ster tar  exceeded  all  my  imagination  of  it.  Could  we  have  such  Gotliic 
buildings,  I  should  no  longer  oppose  the  task.   From  York  I  came  to  New 

252  MEMOm   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  1). 

Castle  on  Tyne,  where  I  lingered  for  a  day,  rummaging  Grant's  old 
book-shop ;  he  is  a  fine  example  of  an  enthusiastic  biblio-maniac.  Last 
night  I  came  here,  and  to-morrow  go  to  Glasgow." 

"Bristol,  Auff.  28,  1850. 
Vv'inchester,  where  old  Izaak  Walton  is  buried,  is  like  an  old  romance, 
with  its  Cathedral,  very  beautiful,  and  presenting  the  Qifferent  styles  of 
the  different  periods  in  which  its  several  parts  were  built,  and  its  col- 
lege cloisters,  and  other  ecclesiastical  buildings  hid  away  in  labyrinths  of 
green,  and  under  avenues  of  old  trees,  while  the  city  is  built  around 
them.  I  have  never  seen  anything  so  full  of  past  times  ;  Salisbury  in  a 
great  measure  partakes  of  the  same  characteristics.  The  Cathedral  is 
line ;  the  spire,  I  believe,  is  thought  to  be  the  finest  in  England,  but  I 
do  not  like  it  so  well  as  Winchester." 

"  Amstesdam,  Sej^t.  4,  1850. 

Sunday  I  spent  in  Rotterdam,  and  had  the  pleasure  of  attending  Di- 
vine Service,  without  understanding  more  than  a  thousandth  part  of 
what  was  said ;  but  it  would  have  done  your  heart  good  to  hear  the 
Dutchmen  sing,  with  the  noble,  though  not  vrell-played,  organ  accom- 
panying them.     It  vv'as  really  like  the  voice  of  many  waters. 

I  am  very  glad  that  I  have  set  out  on  this  tour  through  Holland,  for  it 
is  very  interesting  to  me.  The  only  drawback  to  my  satisfoction  (be- 
sides my  not  being  able  to  understand  Dutch)  is  the  expense;  it  is 
quite  as  dear  as  England,  and,  to  one  not  knowing  the  language,  perhaps 
more  so. 

On  Monday  I  went  up  the  lower  branch  of  the  Rhine  to  Arnheim, 
which  is  really  a  Dutch  paradise.  The  place  is  not  large,  perhaps 
15,000  inhabitants,  and  it  was  formerly  fortified  so  as  to  be  one  of  the 
strongest  towns  in  the  Low  Countries,  but  now  all  these  ramparts  are 
turned  into  public  walks,  which  are  delightfully  arranged  and  kept  Avith 
the  utmost  skill.  I  saw  one  or  two  country-houses,  the  grounds  of 
which  were  quite  as  well  cared  for  as  any  in  England.  From  Arn- 
.  heim  I  came  to  Utrecht  so  famous  in  the  history  of  these  extraordinary 
people ;  saw  a  small  but  good  collection  of  paintings ;  the  place,  now  a 
college  hall,  in  which  the  union  of  Utrecht  was  signed,  that  union  was 
the  pattern  of  our  union  of  the  states,  looked  over  the  Cathedral 
wliich  has  been  shaken  by  storms  and  spoiled  by  modern  improvements 

PAUL  potter's  bull.  253 

so-called ;  wandered  tlirough  Ihe  streets  amusing  myself  wiih  the 
people's  queer  costumes  some  of  them  seemed  quite  as  much  amused 
with  mine,  and  spent  hours  in  the  delicious,  public  pleasure-grounds, 
extending  like  those  of  Arnhcira  all  round  the  city,— woods,  water  and 
rich  green  grass.  Amsterdam  is  so  much  larger  than  any  other 
of  the  cities  of  Holland  that  it  presents  of  course  far  more  objects  of 

"  Among  other  things  that  I  have  seen,  is  the  famous  bull  painting  by 
Paul  Potter  in  the  collections  at  the  Hague.  It  ranks  in  pecuniary 
estimate  as  the  fourth  picture  in  the  world.  It  is  very  large  and  the 
figures  the  size  of  life.  The  bull  stands  in  the  foreground  of  a  Dutch 
meadow,  the  distance  of  which  is  admirably  given ;  an  old  man,  the 
herd,  stands  beside  a  tree ;  a  placid  looking  cow  is  chewing  her  cud, 
with  her  broad,  honest  face  towards  you ;  two  or  three  sheep  are  in 
different  positions,  and  the  young  bull  stands  easily  out,  looking  calmly 
in  your  eyes ;  but  in  the  cow,  the  sheep,  and  particularly  the  bull,  the 
imitation  is  so  complete  that  it  seems  as  if  every  hair  was  painted 
separately,  this,  too,  without  sacrificing  the  main  effect  to  the  detail. 
It  were  worth  a  voyage  to  Europe  to  see  that  picture  alone.  There  are 
other  fine  pictures  in  the  same  gallery,  but,  with  the  exception  of  a 
Virgin  and  child  by  Murillo,  and  a  somewhat  shocking  school  of 
anatomy,  representing  a  professor  dissecting  a  dead  body,  I  can  re- 
member only  the  bull. 

I  have  also  seen  and  heard  the  famous  organ  at  Haarlaem,  and  truly  it 
is  a  wonderful  instrument,  though  not  well  played  by  the  present 
organist,  who  gets  five  dollars  every  time  it  is  exhibited.  The  vox 
humana  stop,  so  called  from  its  being  meant  to  resemble  the  human 
voice,  from  the  highest  treble  to  the  deepest  bass,  startles  you  with  its 
life-like  tones.  The  organ  is  now  flourisliing  much,  on  its  former  claims 
to  be  the  largest  and  best  in  the  world;  but  the  one  at  York  Minster  is 
now  the  largest,  and  the  organ  at  Fribourg  excels  in  the  vox  humayia. 
Both  are  upon  the  whole  better  instruments.  By  the  way,  the  ladies 
of  Haarlaem  are  eminent  for  beauty.  Haarlaem  is  throughout  a 
beautiful  city;  and  the  environs,  more  than  most  of  the  towns  of 
Holland,  are  delightfully  arranged  with  woods  and  water  where  the 
people   make  their  promenades   on   foot  or  in   carriages   during  the 

254^  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

summer,  and  in  sleighs  and  on  skates  during  the  winter.  In  one  of 
Washington  Irving's  books  (the  'Tales  of  a  Traveller,  I  think)  you 
will  find  a  description  of  the  village  of  Broek,  the  cleanest  place  in  the 
world ;  no  carriages  can  enter  its  streets,  no  one  is  allowed  to  ride  a 
horse,  to  smoke  at  nights  or  during  the  day  without  a  cover  to  his  i)ipe 
to  prevent  the  ashes  from  falling.  The  houses  have  each  one  grand 
parlor  which  is  never  open  but  for  a  marriage,  a  christening,  a  burial 
or  some  great  family  festival ;  if  the  last,  the  front  door  is  not  opened, 
but  only  for  the  three  former.  It  is  wholly  a  dairy  village,  and  the 
cows'  stables  are  as  clean  as  the  cleanest  house ;  they  are  scrubbed  with 
the  greatest  care,  the  cows  themselves  are  rubbed  down  and  their  tails 
tied  up.  It  being  only  September  the  cows  are  now  in  the  fields,  and 
the  inhabitants  make  their  summer  quarters  in  the  stables.  I  saw  one 
family  eating  their  dinner  in  a  stall.  The  multitude  of  round  Dutch 
cheeses,  looked  like  a  store  of  cannon-balls  in  an  arsenal.  The  road 
to  Broek  is  along  the  great  ship  canal  cut  by  Napoleon  from  the 
Texel  to  Amstel,  the  river  on  which  Amsterdam  is  situated. 
The  canal  is  considerably  lower  than  the  sea,  the  road  lower  than  the 
bank  of  the  canal,  and  the  farms  lower  than  the  road :  a  single  burst  of 
the  dyke  would  flood  the  whole  country.  The  churches,  as  to  their 
appearance  during  service,  are  very  strange.  The  Dominie  preaches 
without  a  gown,  but  wears  bands,  in  some  cases  a  band,  or  rather 
the  two  sewed  together.  During  the  j)rayers  and  the  singing  the 
men  put  off  their  bats,  but  when  the  sermon  begins  they  generally 
put  them  on. 

The  collection  is  taken  during  the  sermon,  and  in  one  instance  they 
came  round  twice  in  succession.  The  prayers  are  extemporaneous, 
and  the  sermons  terribly  long.  The  ministers  preach  with  earnestness, 
but  in  a  pompous,  heavy  tone.  All  that  I  could  distinctly  make  out 
from  one  of  them  was  '  Baul  and  Paanabaas.' 

The  great  churches  (like  cathedrals)  have  a  separate  division  for 
marriages,  and  one  day,  in  Amsterdam,  I  had  the  luck  of  seeing  a  grand 
wedding.  About  a  hundred  spectators  seated  themselves  in  the  pews 
along  the  outer  pannelling  encasing  the  marriage  chapel;  within  was 
a  separate  space  enclosed,  a  sofa  placed  at  one  end,  with  perhaps 
fifteen  chairs  on  each  side  forming  a  semi-circle  where  the  friends  of 
the  bride  and  groom  took  their  places  with  most  studied  solemnity; 


the  organ  played  beautiful  variations  on  dolce  concenio.  The  minister 
ascended  the  pulpit,  immediately  in  front  of  which  was  an  inclined 
plane  rising  towards  it,  covered  with  a  rich  carpet;  and  under  the  pulpit 
a  piece  of  embroidery  with  flowers  in  the  centre  and  two  most  ominous 
looking  dogs,  not  billing,  but  turning  their  heads  from  one  anotlier,  as 
if  in  a  sort  of  Dutch  pet.  The  Dominie  then  made  a  long  speech  to  the 
bride  and  groom  still  sitting  on  the  sofa.  Then  a  very  long  prayer,  and 
then  he  told  them  to  '  stand  oop,'  and  they  came  to  the  part  of  the  plane 
where  llierc  were  two  crimson  ottomans  to  kneel  on.  Here  they  read 
from  the  book  for  some  time,  and  exchanged  vows  without  a  ring. 
Then  he  bade  them  kneel,  and  the  groom,  who  had  been  standing  on  the 
left  of  the  bride,  changed  places  wath  her,  and  knelt  on  her  right,  she 
kneeling  also;  then  a  long  prayer  again,  and  the  benediction,  after 
which  the  two  sextons,  Avho  had  been  standing  on  each  side  under  the 
pulpit,  each  advanced  with  a  huge  tin  box,  looking  like  half  of  a  small 
mill-stone,  and  presented  it  to  the  bride  and  groom  for  their  presents, 
then  to  the  friends,  and  then  took  their  station  at  the  door  to  try  from 
all  the  company,  getting  from  me  the  magnificent  sum  of  '  ein  stuyver,' 
almost  two  and  a  half  cents. 

During  the  whole  service  there  was  neither  a  smile  nor  a  tear,  and 
the  Dominie  appeared  to  be  going  through  a  burial  service,  his  tones 
expressive  of  sorrow  rather  than  joy,  and  the  organ  wound  up  with 
*  old  Hundred.'  The  groom  was  a  Count  something,  perhaps  fifty  years 
old,  and  the  bride  an  old  maid  of  forty,  so  that  '  old  Hundred '  was  very 
much  in  place.  She  was  dressed  with  a  while  lace  hat,  a  splendid 
cashmere  shawl  of  a  white  ground,  a  richly-figured  pearl-colored  silk 
with  a  flounce  of  lace  a  foot  broad.  My  man  told  me  that  there  was  a 
breakfast  set  out  in  a  room  adjoining  the  church,  and  that  the  groom 
must  have  spent  on  the  organist,  tlie  Dominie,  the  attendants,  and  the 
breakfast  at  least  a  thousand  guilders  ($415);  but  added  he,  Madame 
a  beaucoup  d'argent.'  He  says  that  the  Dominie  was  so  long  about  it 
because  he  was  well  paid,  but  that  he  would  marry  thirty  poor  couple  ia 
a  quarter  of  the  time.  It  is  certainly  a  formidable  business  to  ^et 
married  in  Holland. 

You  would  be  much  amused  with  the  costume  and  habits  of  the  work- 
ing wom.en.  They  all  wear  short  gowns  and  petticoats,  and  white  cap  with 
a  broad  frill,  and  most  of  tliem  adorn  their  heads  with  plates  of  silver, 
and  more  often  of  gold,  with  a  variety  of  chains  and  pendents.     These 

256  MEMOIK   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE.    D.  D. 

ornaments  are  handed  down  as  heirlooms,  and  are  sometimes  of  great 
value.  The  women  in  this  city  carry  burdens  in  baskets  suspended 
from  their  shoulders,  by  such  yokes  as  the  milkmen  in  New  York  used 
to  carry  their  cans,  and  when  a  little  hurried  they  have  the  most  funny 
swing  from  one  side  to  the  other,  for  all  the  world  like  a  fashionable 
lady's  wriggle.  You  cannot  tell,  from  behind,  a  young  girl  from  an  old 
woman,  for  they  are  as  alike  in  waists  as  they  are  in  dress,  and  often 
w^hen  you  think  you  are  passing  some  overgrown  grandmother,  the  fair, 
rosy  face,  and  laughing  eyes  of  sixteen,  turn  upon  you.  Their  child- 
liood  certainly  runs  to  waist,  and  the  multitude  of  their  balloon-like 
petticoats,  put  to  shame  all  the  exaggeration  of  abustling  world." 

"Bremen,  Sept.  11,  1850. 

I  have  visited  the  only  curiosity  in  this  place  worth  seeing.  On  the 
market-place  stands  an  old  and  beautiful  building,  the  Rathhaiis  or 
Senate  House,  the  freizes  of  which,  in  front,  are  sculptured  with  emblem- 
atical devices  of  Christian  and  Pagan  Mythology  strangely  inter- 
mingled, and  at  the  side  there  are  statues  of  princes,  and  an  emperor. 
In  the  market-place,  front  of  it,  stands  a  statue  of  Roland,  eighteen  feet 
high,  the  date  of  which  I  could  not  ascertain,  but  it  is  emblematical  of 
the  power  which  the  senate  of  this  little  state  of  Bremen  (about  60,000 
souls)  once  claimed  as  a  free  city,  and  still  professes  to  claim  in  a  con- 
siderable degree. 

It  has  been  the  pride  of  the  senate  to  preserve,  in  a  deep  cellar  under 
the  Rathhaus,  quantities  of  Rhine  wine,  some  of  which  has  attained  a 
great  age ;  huge  casks  full  are  ranged  throughout  the  cellar,  but  in  one 
chamber  there  are  twelve  casks  marked  with  the  name  of  the  twelve 
Apostles,  the  wine  of  Judas  being  the  best,  because  wine  is  treacherous. 
Another  chamber  is  called  the  Rose,  from  a  huge  rose  being  painted  on 
the  ceiling,  with  an  inscription  in  Latin,  to  the  effect,  that  *as  without 
love  the  joys  of  wine  were  imperfect,  and  without  wine  Venus  herself 
would  grow  cold,  so  the  Rose  of  Venus  should  preside  over  the 
treasures  of  Bacchus.'  I  drank  from  curiosity  a  glass  of  the  wine 
(Rudesheimer)  which  bore  the  most  ancient  date  1625,  224  years  old, 
but  the  wine  of  18-16  pleases  my  palate  better." 

"  Hamburg  Sept.  22,  1850. 

In  the  afternoon  I  came  to  Hanover  by  the  railroad.  It  is  a  pretty 
town,   but  without  much  to   attract  a  stranger,  but  I  had  the   great 


satisfaction  of  seeing  and  hearing  the  people  mob  Haynau,  the  Austrian 
butcher  of  the  Hungarians.  You  will  have  seen  in  the  papers  an 
account  of  liis  being  mobbed  in  London,  when  he  went  to  see  Barclay's 
brewery;  he  had  been  in  Hanover  two  weeks  before  and  was  not 
disturbed,  but  received  attentions  from  the  King;  after  his  affair  in 
London,  he  fled  to  Hanover,  and  the  people,  excited  by  the  news  from 
London,  rose  in  a  crowd,  drove  him  from  the  theatre  and  endangered 
his  life,  so  that,  escorted  by  the  police  at  five  o'clock  this  morning,  he 
fled  to  Hesse  Cassel,  where  he  will  probably  have  no  better  fate.  It 
serves  him  right,  the  wretch  that  flogged  women  ! 

Hamburg,  in  the  quarter  where  I  am  lodging  is  very  beautiful.  The 
Alster,  a  small  river,  is  led  into  a  large  basin  perhaps  five  hundred 
yards  wide,  forming  a  square,  along  the  sides  of  which  are  many  hand- 
some houses  built  after  the  great  fire  in  1842.  As  I  look  out  from  my 
high  window  I  see  the  clear  water,  brilliant  with  the  reflection  of  a 
thousand  lights,  and  with  boats  on  the  surface,  freighted  with  gay 
parties,  music  from  the  pavilion  on  the  further  side  sweeping  down  on 
the  gentle  wind,  and  such  music  as  only  a  German  band  or  orchestra 
can  make.  It  is  also  very  amusing  to  see  the  pretty  Vrieland  girls  in  a 
picturesque  costume,  a  round  hat  turned  up  broadly  at  the  sides,  so  as  to 
make  them  liigher  than  the  crown,  a  laced  boddice  of  some  gay  color, 
and  very  short  petticoats  setting  off  their  trim  legs  in  deep  red  stockings 
to  great  advantage:  they  are  the  Vrielanders,  the  market-people 
of  Hamburgh.  The  servant-maids  are  also  objects  of  curiosity,  for  it  is 
a  pride  of  theirs,  and  of  the  families  with  whom  they  live,  to  dress  very 
showily  ;  and  they  carry  a  box  under  their  arms  to  contain  the  articles 
sent  by  them,  which  is  always  covered  by  a  neat  shawl." 

"  Dresden. 
I  went  to  Leipsic.  Half  a  day  was  enough  to  exhaust  all  that  was 
really  curious  in  that  town,  which  has  its  celebrity  from  its  trade,  and  a 
great  battle  once  fought  near  it,  and  yesterday,  at  four  p.  m.,  I  arrived 
here.  Last  evening  the  moon  shone  brightly,  and  I  made  the  best  of  it 
in  rambling  over  the  town.  To-day  I  have  spent  entirely  in  the 
palace,  which  is  crowded  with  precious  curiosities,  and  in  the  glorious 
picture-gallery.  In  the  last  I  hope  to  spend  to-morrow,  perhaps  part 
of  Monday.  It  far  exceeds  the  gallery  at  Berlin,  excellent  as  that  is. 
I  promised  myself  to  give  you  some  account  of  w^hat  is  to  be  seen  in 
Berlin,  yet  scarcely  know  where  to  begin  or  where  to  end.  There  is  no 

258  MEMOIR    OF    GEO.    AV.    BETIIUIsE,    D.  D. 

describing  a  picture  —  llo^v  can  the  words  of  a  pen  give  the  exquisite 
sentiment  of  Carlo  Dolci,  the  serene  holiness  of  Raphael,  the  coloring 
of  Rubens,  the  shadows  of  Rembrandt,  the  grace  of  Correggio,  or  the 
natural  truth  of  Gerard  ? 

Yet  upon  all  these  and  many  other  very  eminent  masters,  with  some 
admirable  IMurillos  and  Claudes,  I  feasted  myself  until  I  was  delirious 
with  delight,  intoxicated  to  confusion  with  enjoyment.     Of  course  I  shall 
remember  comparatively  few,  but  those  few  can  never  be  forgotten. 
Among  those  noted,  I  was  particularly  struck  by    '  The  angel  opening 
the  door  of  Peter's  dungeon.'     It  is  large,  the  figures  the  size  of  life; 
light  streams  in  from  the  opened  door  upon  the  form  and  face  of  Peter, 
who  is  awaking  with  a  mixed  expression  of  surprise  and  confusion,  yet 
no  timidity;   a  holy  joy  in  his  mission  beams  from  the  angel's  counte- 
nance as  he  beckons  the  apostle  forth.     It  is  by  Gerardo  del  Notti. 
There  is  also  a  large  landscape  by  Salvator  Rosa,  finer  than  anything  I 
have  ever  seen  of  that  artist.     But  I  am  out  of  patience  with  myself  for 
attempting  to  describe  my  impressions  in  that  gallery,  and  I  shall  cease. 
There  is   however,   a  monument  by  a  modern  sculptor,   l^auch,    at 
Charlottenburgh  which  alone  is  worth  going  a  thousand  miles  to  see.     It 
is  of  the  late  Queen  of  Prussia  and  her  husband  the  King.     It  is  placed 
within  a  little  Doric  temple,  in  a  retired  part  of  the  gardens  about  the 
little  palace  at  Charlottenburgh.     The  light  is  most  admirably  managed, 
being  let  in  from  windows  near   the   roof;    some  blue  panes  in  the 
porch    soften  the   light  from  the  interior,  so  as   to  give  the  sculpture 
the  very  best  advantage.     The  King  and  Queen  each  recline  upon  a 
Grecian  couch,  the  couches  being  perhaps  six  feet  apart.     He  is  clothed 
in  his  uniform,  his  cloak  thrown  loosely  around  him,  hiding  the  stifihess 
of  our  modern  costume,  his  head  is  bare,  and  he  lies  as  tranquilly  as  if 
reposing  after  fatigue.  His  countenance  is  most  life-like  and  serene ;  but 
the  figure  of  the  Queen  so  absorbed  me  that  I  had  little  time  for  the 
King's,  fine  as  it  is.     She  was  in  life  eminently  beautiful  and  eminently 
good.     The  sculptor  (except  that  he  has  made  both  statues  one  foot 
larger  than  life,)  has  represented  her  as  she  was.      She  lies  with  her 
face  upwards,  a  face  of  Avonderful  loveliness  and,  even  in  sleep,  full  of 
sweet,   pious   gentleness.     Her  form  is   exquisite  in  proportion,    and 
is  draped  in  a  simple  night-dress,  the  arms  bare,  but  otherwise  covered 
to  the  neck.      Her  lower  limbs  are  crossed,  and  her  hands  laid  meekly, 

BERLIN.  259 

but  most  naturally,  upon  her  bosom.  So  naturally  is  the  drapery 
wrought,  that,  at  a  little  distance  I  could  not  distinguish  (at  first) 
between  the  marble  and  the  white  cloth  Avhich  the  attendant  had  removed 
on  our  coming  in,  and  rolled  up  at  the  foot.  On  each  side  of  the  statues 
is  a  rich  candelabrum  with  figures  around  the  shaft,  one  representing  the 
Graces,  the  other  the  Fates,  the  countenances  of  each  expressive  of 
grief.  All  around  the  freize  of  the  temple  are  texts  of  Scripture  (in 
German)  very  well  chosen,  and  above  a  little  altar-shaped  table,  is  a 
fresco  representing  the  Saviour  on  a  throne,  and  the  deceased  King  and 
Queen  kneeling,  and  laying  down  their  crowns  at  his  feet, — the  in- 
scription—  *I  am  the  Lord,  and  besides  rac,  there  is  none  else.' 
Rarely,  I  may  say  never,  have  I  had  a  deeper  impression  made  upon  me 
than  by  the  whole  monument,  especially  the  figure  of  the  Queen.  I  was 
silent  for  an  hour  after  I  left  the  building,  following  my  guide  about  the 
grounds  almost  unconsciously. 

At  Leipsic  I  saw  the  church  from  Avliich  Luther  thundered.  The 
church  has  been  altered  Avithin  a  few  years  past,  but  the  pulpit  is  sa- 
credly preserved  in  a  little  closet  by  itself.  It  is  nearly  round  in 
shape  with  some  carving  of  a  poor  kind.  I  also  drank  a  glass  of 
Rhine  wine  in  the  cellar  where  Goethe  laid  part  of  the  scene  of  his 
Faust,  and  where  Faust  and,  afterwards,  Goethe  himself,  had  '  kept  it 

At  the  great  church  here  I  attended  service  after  the  Lutheran 
method,  and  listened  to  an  exceedingly  eloquent  man.  Of  course  I 
could  not  make  out  all  he  said,  but  could  see  and  feel  that  he  was 
most  eloquent.  His  delivery  was  so  good  as  to  be  a  perfect  study. 
The  congregation  sung  one  or  two  German  chorals  extremely  well,  and 
a  choir  of  men  and  bovs  chanted  well,  while  the  or^an  was  mairnifi- 
cently  played.  On  my  way  home  I  looked  into  another  church  and 
saw  a  baptism.  I  was  too  late  for  the  service  of  the  EngHsh  Chapel, 
indeed,  I  prefer  attending  worship  with  the  people  of  the  town  I  am 
in.  It  widens  one's  heart  to  worship  with  strangers  the  God  and 
Saviour  we  worship  at  home.  The  people  have  at  least  the  appear- 
ance of  devotion,  and  it  is  not  for  us  to  judge  the  heart.  How  could  I 
doubt  the  earnest,  solemn,  rapt  faces  which  were  upturned  to  catch 
the  preacher's  words,  or  bowed  down  in  prayer;  afterwards  beam- 

260  MEMOIU    OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

ing  with  fervor  as  they  joined  in  a  grand  chorus  of  two  thousarid 
voices.  The  rest  of  the  Sabbath  is  a  holiday,  as  you  know,  on  the 
Continent  rather  than  a  holy  day,  and  it  pained  me  to  think  that  the 
impressions  made  by  the  sermon  of  the  morning  were  to  be  effaced  by 
the  amusements  of  the  evening.  Far  sweeter  are  our  cjuiet  Sabbath 
evenings  at  home,  and  far  better  for  the  people.  I  must  however  say 
for  Berlin  that  externally  it  is  one  of  the  best-regulated  cities  I  have 
ever  seen.  The  hack  carriages,  porters,  and  even  the  hotels  are 
under  a  very  strict  and  just  system,  so  that  one  who  knows  the  rules 
need  never  be  cheated.  After  ten  o'clock  at  night  the  streets  are 
almost  deserted  and  no  impropriety  of  any  kind  permitted.  As  yet  I 
am  unprepared  to  give  you  any  description  of  what  I  have  seen.  Six 
hours  w^ere  consumed  at  Potsdam,  the  summer  residence  of  the  king, 
where  there  are  several  palaces,  among  them  the  famous  San  Soitci, 
built  by  Frederick  the  Great  to  shew  that  after  all  the  cost  of  the 
Seven  Years'  Wai%  he  was  still  very  well  provided  with  money.  The 
grounds  were  very  extensive.  I  must  have  driven  and  walked  miles 
upon  miles  through  them.  They  are  crowded  with  statues  and 
fountains  and  parterres  of  rich  flowers,  showing  that  enormous 
wealth  has  been  lavished  upon  them,  though  often  in  bad  taste." 

I  was  greatly  delighted  with  Dresden.  As  a  city  it  is  not  well 
built,  but  beautifully  situated,  and  after  the  monotonous  flat  countries 
I  have  been  in  for  weeks,  the  hills  which  encircled  it,  the  sides  of 
which  are  mostly  covered  with  vineyards,  had  quite  a  refreshing  look. 
But  the  charm  of  Dresden  is  its  picture-gallery.  There  is,  to  be  sure, 
in  a  range  of  apartments  connected  with  the  palace  (called  the 
Green  Vaults),  an  immense  collection  of  precious  things,  gold  plate, 
jewels,  and  articles  of  curious,  costly  workmanship  ;  and  in  another  pal- 
ace a  very  precious  and  most  extensive  collection  of  porcelain,  Chinese, 
Japanese  and  European  ;  in  fact,  a  complete  history  of  earthen-ware  in 
the  ware  itself,  near  which  is  a  small  collection  of  antique  sculpture 
&c.  All  this  ]  went  through,  besides  looking  at  the  curiosities  of  the 
Royal  Library  and  the  rooms  of  the  palace,  yet  I  consider  the  time 
spent  among  these  as  more  than  lost,  as  it  diminished  my  time  of  en- 
joyment in  the  gallery.  The  gallery  is  an  extensive  but  mean 
building,  yet  within  it  are  rich  treasures,  perhaps  the  richest  out  of 
Italy.     First  among  the  foremost  is  the  Madonna  of  Raphael,  called 

THE  ST.  siSTixr:  madonna.  261 

the  St.  SIstinc  from  the  Pope,  who  is  represented  in  it.  It  is  very 
large  and  the  figures  of  colossal  size.  The  Virgin,  holding  in  her  arms 
the  divine  child,  has  descended  upon  a  fleecy  cloud,  appearing  to 
Pope  Sixtus,  who  kneels  on  her  right,  and  St.  Barbara,  Avho  kneels  on 
her  left.  The  Pope,  gazing  up  on  his  heavenly  visitants,  represents 
the  adoration  of  high  intellectual  faith.  St.  Barbara,  turning  her 
head  away,  as  it  were,  from  the  glory  of  the  Presence,  gives  the  ideal 
of  humble  reverence.  The  figures  of  the  Pope  and  Barbara  are  won- 
derfully fine,  and  either  alone  would  be  a  master-piece  of  art.  At 
the  foot  of  the  picture  are  two  little  cherubims  or  angels  looking  up 
v/ilh  beautiful  rapture,  and  they  are  justly  considered  exquisite  in 
character  and  glow,  but  the  charm  of  the  picture,  besides  its  beautiful 
harmony,  is  the  Virgin  herself.  Her  feet  scarcely  rest  even  on  the 
cloud.  She  floats  in  air ;  her  position  is  upright,  the  child  sitting  up- 
on her  right  arm.  The  child  I  do  not  entirely  like.  It  is  impossible 
for  art  to  represent  Deity  incarnate  as  a  child,  even  more  so  than  as  a 
man.  Here  Raphael  in  striving  to  give  dignity  has  given  rather  stern- 
ness ;  but,  oh  !  the  face  of  the  Virgin.  There  is  nothing  to  my  eye  so 
lovely  upon  canvas ;  far  before  the  Madonna  of  the  chair  at  Flor- 
ence. I  have  gazed  upon  it  for  hours,  and  shall  carry  it  away  upon 
my  heart.  That  picture  is  really  worth  my  whole  journey.  Besides 
the  Madonna,  there  are  many  gems,  five  or  six  favourites.  Here  is 
the  Magdalena  of  Correggio,  a  small  picture,  in  which  the  Magdalen 
in  a  drapery  of  blue  reclines  on  the  ground  reading,  her  head  resting 
on  her  arm.  You  have  often  seen  copies  and  engravings  of  it,  but  of 
course  all  fall  short  of  the  sweet  reality.  I  must  confess,  however, 
some  disappointment;  delighted  as  I  was,  it  did  not  come  up  to  my 
expectations.  Here  is  also  the  Adoration  of  the  Shepherds  by  Cor- 
reggio, a  large  picture,  in  vdiich  the  light  mainly  comes  from  the 
child,  though  the  morning  has  broke,  and  the  early  dawn  with  the 
supernatural  light  mingle  together  in  a  wonderful  manner.  You  re- 
member the  same  subject  by  Gerard  at  Florence ;  this  is  a  finer 
picture  in  the  judgment  of  artists,  but  the  one  at  Florence  comes  very 
near  to  it  in  my  judgment.  Here  are  also  two  heads  of  our  Saviour 
by  Guldo  Reni ;  the  one  representing  him  breaking  the  bread,  the 
other  covered  with  thorns ;  both  very,  very  admirable.  There  are 
several  other  Guides,  as  well  as  Correggios ;  a  St.  Cecilia,  and  the 
girl  with  John  the  Baptist's  head  in  a  charger,  both  ranked  very  high. 

262  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

Caracci  has  here  a  head  of  our  Saviour  which  is  most  divine,  and 
there  is  a  capital  Murillo,  a  Virgin  and  child,  with  that  star-like  char- 
acter so  peculiar  to  him.  There  is  a  profusion  of  Titians,  Rerabrandts, 
Rubens,  Gerard,  Douws,  Synders  and  Potters,  besides  countless 
others  of  inferior  note  (the  catalogue  was  over  1000  ! !) .  One  of  the 
Douws  is  the  sweetest,  if  not  the  best,  of  all  his  I  have  seen.  It  is  a 
sweet-faced  girl  holding  a  candle  out  of  a  window  in  a  dark  night  to 
pluck  a  bunch  of  grapes.  His  famous  cat  is  here,  a  grey  pussy  sitting 
on  a  window-sill  so  tranquilly  that  you  can  almost  hear  her  purr.  A 
landscape  by  Ruysdael  struck  me  as  particularly  excellent.  But  were 
I  to  write  a  week  I  should  not  begin  to  finish  the  list  of  these  glorious 

I  had  also  at  Dresden  a  great  musical  treat.  I  attended  the  Lutheran 
church  on  Sunday  morning,  making  one  of  a  large  congregation,  of 
perhaps  three  thousand  persons.  And  how  they  did  sing  with  all 
their  lungs  the  noble  chorals  in  Avhich  the  Germans  delight ;  but  on  my 
way  home  I  looked  into  ilie  (only)  Catholic  Church  (the  royal  family 
arc  Catholics,  but  jiearly  all  the  people  Protestants)  and  there  I  heard 
a  mass  performed  in  a  style  so  grand  and  beautiful  as  to  be  entranc- 
ing. The  music  is  by  the  Chapel  Master  of  the  king.  I  have  secured 
a  MS.  copy  of  it  and  hope  (D.  V.)  to  hear  some  of  its  airs  in  my 
own  new  church  at  Brooklyn. 

This  morning  at  five  o'ck)ck  I  left  Dresden  for  this  place  and  have 
been  enchanted  all  day  with  the  scenery.  The  Elbe  passes  the  whole 
way  between  mountains,  and  the  scene  on  both  sides  is  by  turns,  and 
often  together,  magnificent  and  grand ;  in  fact  this  part  of  Saxony  is 
called  Saxon  Sv/itzerland,  so  much  does  it  resemble  the  true  land  of 
the  Swiss.  There  is  all  along  a  constant  succession  or  rather  contin- 
uation of  views  which  exhaust  all  the  terms  by  which  we  express 
admiration.  '  Sublime,'  '  magnificent,'  '  ravishing,'  '  delicious,' 
were  the  exclamations  from  those  on  our  little  deck  in  all  languages. 
The  finest  view  is  that  near  the  Konigsburg  or  Royal  Citadel ;  but 
there  is  another  nearly  as  striking  where  the  mountains  present  the 
same  sinuous  appearance  as  the  Palisades  on  the  Hudson,  but  in  this 
superior,  as,  about  a  hundred  feet  from  the  top  which  rises  precipitately, 
the  sides  sloped  to  the  shore  covered  with  vin^s  and  verdure,  studded 
also  with  neat  houses.  As  a  whole  I  like  it  nearly  as  well  as  the 
Rhine ;  and,  but  for  the  toAvering  pinnacled  Alps,  quite  as  well  as  any 

VIENNA.  263 

part  of  Switzerland  except  the  Lakes.  The  sun  was  setting  as  Ave 
took  the  rail ;  but  an  hour  after  the  full  moon  rose  in  sih'ering  splen- 
dor and  shone  upon  the  calm  river  and  the  mountains  which  line  its 
shores.  Here,  too,  for  the  first  time  in  Europe,  I  found  railway  cars 
after  our  American  fashion.  Everywhere  else  that  I  have  been  they 
use  the  coach-body  cars,  such  as  we  rode  in  from  London  to  Liver- 


I  was  greatly  pleased  with  Prague  as  a  city,  though  there  is  not 
much  besides  the  city  itself  to  see.  There  are  a  few  pictures  in  the 
Wallenstein  collection,  but  no  great  things.  The  city,  however,  is 
very  finely  situated  in  a  basin  surrounded  by  hills  along  which  are 
old  fortifications  and  walls  ;  and  the  view  from  one  of  the  hills  which 
is  named  after  Ziska,  the  great  general  of  the  Reformers  in  that  section, 
is  one  of  the  best  I  have  ever  had.  I  am  rather  disappointed  in  Vi- 
enna, though  it  is  undoubtedly  a  very  fine  city,  and  perhaps  at  this 
season  I  do  not  see  it  to  advantage.  The  streets  are  narrow  and  the 
squares  mean,  the  best  houses  being  in  the  suburbs  of  the  city. 
Then  there  are  undoubtedly  some  good  buildings.  The  picture-gal- 
lery (royal)  and  another  private  collection  are  large,  and  contain 
some  very  good  things.  There  is  an  exquisite  Madonna  and  child  by 
Raphael;  one  of  the  best  Cuyps  I  have  yet  seen,  and  very  many 
Rubens,  and  some  of  the  Dutch  school,  of  which  I  am  not  so  fond  as 
I  am  of  the  Italian.  By  the  way,  in  coming  from  Prague  here  I  fell 
in  with  a  Hungarian,  Avho  told  me  that  he  had  wished  to  go  to  America 
after  having  been  compromised  by  the  insurrection.  When  he  found 
that  I  was  an  American,  of  the  North,  as  they  call  us,  he  told  his  little 
girl  to  kiss  my  hand." 

"  Vienna. 

1  went  by  railroad  to  Presburg  (perhaps  sixty-miles)  which  I 
reached  in  the  dark  and  where  my  first  experience  of  a  Hungarian  Inn 
was  far  from  agreeable  ;  but  the  steam  voyage  down  the  swift  Danube 
made  up  for  my  inconveniences.  Not  far  from  Presburg  was  the  scene  of 
a  great  battle  between  the  Austrians  and  Hungarians  in  which  the  latter 
were  victorious  ;  and  about  half  way  to  Pesth  is  the  little  city  of  Como- 
ru  whose  fortress  under  Klapka  held  out  to  the  last  and  was  surrendered 
only  upon  the  best  terms,  after  the  Hungarians  had  been  everywhere 
else  scattered.     I  had  the  good  fortune  to  find  several  veiy  a^-reeable 

264  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

fellow-passengers  and  my  being  an  '  American  of  the  North '  secured 
me  some  attention,  partly  because  we  are  rare  birds  here,  partly  be- 
cause we  showed  some  sympathy  for  the  Hungarians,  and  partly  be- 
cause they  were  curious  to  know  more  of  our  country  and  its  insti- 
tutions. Comoru  is  not,  as  one  might  suppose,  a  fortress  on  a  high 
rocky  precipice,  but  on  a  plain,  with  the  Danube  on  one  side  and  ex- 
tensive marshes  on  the  other.  The  towns  and  villages  and  farms  for 
many  miles  still  show  melancholy  traces  of  war.  Austria  is  now  com- 
pletely dominant  and  the  Hungarians  are  made  to  feel  it  in  various 
ways.  They  all  spoke  sadly  of  their  country,  and  many  said  '  All  is 

Between  Comoru  and  Pesth  the  river  cuts  its  way  through  a  fine 
range  of  mountains  and  some  have  thought  that  the  scenery  was 
equal  to  the  best  part  of  the  Khine  ;  but  it  is  not  so,  nor  is  it  equal  to 
the  Elbe  from  Dresden  to  Lobositz,  though  it  is  very  fine.  My  win- 
dow at  Pesth  commanded  the  Danube,  over  which  is  thrown  a  mag- 
nificent suspension  bridge,  perhaps  the  finest  in  the  world,  and  the 
old  city  of  Buda  with  its  mountains  on  the  opposite  sides.  It  so  hap- 
pened that,  during  the  night,  a  large  steam  mill  on  the  Pesth  side  was 
burned  to  the  ground,  and  the  glow  upon  Buda  and  its  rocky  hills  made 
the  scene  very  grand :  indeed  I  do  not  remember  anything  that  I 
have  seen  (at  night)  so  much  so.  My  return  from  Pesth  was  very  un- 
comfortable. The  current  of  the  Danube  is  so  rapid  that  it  requires 
twice  the  time  to  ascend  that  it  does  to  descend." 

"  Munich. 

Notwithstanding  the  storm  I  really  enjoyed  the  scenery  up  the 
Danube  to  Lintz ;  in  some  respects  the  storm  improved  it,  giving  a 
yet  wilder  grandeur  to  the  mountain  ridges,  and  old  ruined  castles 
along  the  shores.  The  environs  of  Passau,  a  little  city  at  the  junction  of 
the  Inn  with  the  Danube  can  seldom  be  surpassed  for  beauty  and  va- 
riety ;  while  the  road,  for  miles  after  leaving  Passau, runs  along  a  ridge 
between  the  two  rivers,  giving  a  magnificent  view  on  either  side. 
The  country  reminded  me  sometimes  of  Switzerland,  sometimes  of 
home.  The  houses  are  Swiss,  but  the  abundance  of  wood  and  rail- 
fences,  with  many  other  things,  seem  like  America.  All  the  way  I  was 
obliged  to  speak  German,  and  my  German  is  very  ridiculous.  My  ex- 
pectation was  to  reach  here  by  midnight  on  Saturday,  but  the  condi- 
tion of  the  roads  kept  me  back  until  late  on  Sunday  morning  much  to 

MU?:iCH.  265 

iny  regret  ;   but  it  was  impossible  to  stop  as  there  was  no  place  of 
refuge  nearer  than  this,  and  our  postillions  compelled  us  to  go  on. 
As  yet  I  have  seen  little  of  Munich,  but  enough  to  astonish  me  with 
the  very  great  contributions  to  science  and  art  made  by  the  late  king, 
who   was  two  years  ago    compelled   by  the   people  to  abdicate  his 
throne  in  favor  of  his  son,  because,  though  an  old  man,  he   chose  to 
play  the  fool  with  that  famous  harpy,  Lola  Montez.     Every  part  of 
the  city  is  crowded  with  monuments  of  his  magnificent  patronage  of  art. 
Besides  two  very  large  and  splendid  churches,  one  built  in  honor  of 
his  patron  Saint  Louis,  the  other  to  commemorate  the  fiftieth  year  of 
Lis  marriage  (called  by  the  Germans,  the  golden  wedding),  he  has 
caused  to  be  erected  a  very  large  building  for  sculptures,  another  for 
pictures,  another  for  an  agricultural  museum,  another  for  the  library, 
the  second  in  size  in  the  world,  another  for  the  University,  another 
for  a  blind  asylum,  besides  three  palaces,  triumphal  arches,  statues  &c. 
&c.,  &c.     Xo  one  of  these  buildings,  except  the  Blind  Asylum,  could 
have  cost  less  than  a  million  of  dollars,  some  of  thera  must  have  cost 
much  more.     The  Sculpture  Gallery  in  its  interior  is  the  most  beauti- 
ful building  I  have  ever  seen  ;  paved  throughout  with  tessellated  mar- 
ble, and  each  hall  or  room  of  a  different  pattern,  adorned  with  fresco 
paintings  and  stored  with  most  precious  monuments  of  ancient  and 
modern  sculpture.     The  new  palace  contains  a  series  of  rooms  dec- 
orated in  the  most  lavish  style  with  frescoes  and  guilt  bronze  statues 
and  golden  ornaments,  and  an  entrance  and  staircase  so  splendid  as  to 
seem  like  a  dream  of  Oriental  romance;  though  scarcely  so  beautiful, 
and  not  so  grand,  as  the  staircase  of  his  new  library.     Besides  the 
churches  he  has  built  entirely,  he  has  given  the  stained  glass  windows, 
nineteen  in   number,  to  a  new  church  in  the  suburbs,  which  represent 
the  history  of  the  Virgin  Mary,  and  I  may  safely  say  there  are  no 
windows  in  the  world  like  them.     To-morrow,    should  the  weather 
prove  fine,  there  will  be  inaugurated  with  appropriate  ceremonies  the 
statue  of  Bavaria  in  bronze,  sixty-one  feet  high,  the  head  of  which 
contains  seats  for  eight  people :    it  is  placed  between  two  beautiful 
temples,  each  adorned  with  columns  and  sculpture  in  a  lavish  manner. 
All   these  edifices  are  in  pure   taste  of  different   orders,  but  chiefly 
Greek.     The  entire  expense  must  have  been  enormous.     I  have  not 
yet  been  in  the  picture-gallery,  having  spent  the  day  in  the  sculpture 
gallery ,^  the  palaces  and  the  churches.     To-morrow  I  devote  to  the 

266  MEMOIR   OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.    D. 


I  wrote  you  that  there  had  been  erected  a  bronze  statue  of  Bavaria 
at  Munich,  sixty-one  feet  high ;  on  "Wednesday  (the  ceremony  hav- 
ing- been  several  times  postponed  on  account  of  the  weather)  the  statue 
was  displayed  to  the  people,  and  it  was  the  occasion  of  a  great  fete. 
As  it  was  erected  by  tlie  ci-devant  King  Louis,  who  was  compelled  to 
abdicate,  the  present  king,  his  son,  did  not  appear,  but  gave  up  the 
honor  of  the  day  to  the  old  man.  The  ceremony  took  place  on  an 
immense  parade  ground  outside  the  city,  and  at  least  20,000  people 
were  present.  A  gay  pavilion  was  erected  for  the  royal  party,  and  I 
pushed  through  the  crowd,  until  I  got  pretty  near  them.  There  was 
a  long  procession  of  the  several  trades,  each  bringing  some  appropriate 
contribution ;  the  military  and  civil  bands  playing  all  the  while  as 
only  a  German  band  can  play. 

Before  the  statue  there  was  a  screen  of  boards  completely  hiding  it 
from  view;  when,  after  a  burst  of  delicious  music  from  the  band,  at  a 
sio-nal  given,  the  screen  fell  down  and  the  beautiful  creation  of  genius 
and  taste  stood  before  the  multitude,  who  were  silent  in  admiration 
perhaps  half  a  minute  before  they  broke  out  in  thundering  cheers. 
Then  a  short  oration  was  pronounced,  and  several  hundred  men's 
voices  sang,  accompanied  by  the  band,  an  ode  in  honor  of  the  oc- 
casion. The  whole  affair  lasted  three  hours,  but  was  well  worth  the 
fatigue  it  cost  me.  The  figure  represents  a  young  maiden,  draped  in 
a  bear  skin,  with  a  wreath  of  vine  leaves  and  wheat  ears  around  her 
head,  a  sheathed  sword  in  one  hand  and  a  wreath  of  victory  held 
aloft  in  the  other.  Nowithstanding  the  immense  size,  the  coun- 
tenance is  lovely,  youthful  and  mild ;  perhaps  the  proportions  of  the 
form  are  a  little  too  large,  but  the  artist's  design  was  to  represent 
Bavaria  strong,  The  artist,  Swanthaler,  did  not  live  to  see  his  work 
triumphant.  His  bust  was  borne  in  the  procession  with  a  guard  of 


It  is  at  Antwerp  that  you  see  the  very  best  works  of  Rubens,  together 
with  some  capital  specimens  of  other,  and  older,  Flemish  masters.  There 
are  especially,  three  pictures  of  Rubens,  the  Crucifixion,  the  Descent 
from  the  Cross,  and  another  Crucifixion  (called,  Christ  between  the 
Thieves),  which  will  remain  in  my  memory  as  long  as  I  live.  The 
Cathedral  at  Antwerp  disappointed  me,  after  those  I  had  seen  elsewhere. 


Ghent  is  full  of  historical  associations,  and  the  streets,  in  many  parts, 
retain  their  antique  appearance,  so  that  it  was  not  difficult  to  realize 
that  you  were  moving  about  the  scenes  where  once  figured  the  Van  Ar- 
tevelds  and  the  other  brave  men  of  Ghent.  The  same  is  true,  though  in 
a  less  degree,  of  Bruges  and  you  may  imagine  what  pleasure  I  had,  fond 
as  I  am  of  Netherlandish  liistory,  in  going  over  the  ground  already  so 
familiar  to  me. 

There  are  also  some  very  nice  old  pictures  by  some  Dutch,  or  rather 
Flemish  masters,  whom  I  know  but  little  of.  Then  it  is  no  wonder  that 
I  allowed  one  mail  train  after  another  to  slip  by,  leaving  me  behind, 
especially,  as  I  care  very  little  for  England." 

Meanwhile,  the  new  church  edifice  approached  comple- 
tion. It  was  a  massive  structure,  very  rich  in  interior 
adornment,  admirably  located,  and  will  ever  remain  the  best 
monument  to  its  accomplished  pastor.  Erected  by  Lefevre, 
it  was  everything  that  could  be  desired  in  point  of  beauty, 
but  its  cost  far  exceeded  the  original  estimates.  A  parson- 
age, according  to  Dr.  Bethune's  plan,  was  also  erected  by 
the  aid  of  some  friends  ;  so  connected  with  the  church 
that  Mrs.  Bethune,  from  her  invalid  couch,  might  hear  and 
take  part  in  the  service.  The  name  assumed  by  the  corpo- 
ration was,  The  Church  on  the  Heights.  The  regular  call 
for  Dr.  Bethune  is  dated,  Nov.  25,  1851.  It  must  have 
been  the  triumph  of  ministeral  success  when  this  most 
beautiful  temple  was  completed  and  he  was  permitted  to 
dedicate  it  with  the  solemn  service  of  his  Liturgy  to  the 
Triune  God.  At  once  it  took  a  front  rank  in  the  city  of 
churches.  Before  this  settlement  was  effected,  another 
very  inviting  proposition  had  been  made  to  him. 

C.  Van  Rensselaer  to  Dr.  Bethune. 

*'  PuiLADELPHiA,  April  16,  1850. 
Mr  Dear  Doctor  :  My  views  as  to  the  man  who  ought  to  be  Chan- 

268  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.    D. 

cellor  of  the  N.  Y.  Uniyersity  are  unchanged,  that  is  to  say  confirmed. 
Providence  has  now  opened  the  way  for  his  inauguration,  which  I  have 
no  doubt  will  take  place  about  the  time  of  *  Commencement.'  If  your 
friends  bring  forward  your  name,  the  appointment  will  be  nearly  if  not 
quite,  unanimous.  No  Episcopal  layman  will  stand  the  shadow  of  a 
chance.  Whatever  influence,  however  diminutive,  I  may  have  with 
anybody,  shall  be  cheerfully  and  dutifully  given  in  the  right  direction. 
I  am,  yours  sincerely, 


This  election,  as  Chancellor  of  the  New  York  University, 

took  place.     The  office  was  one  of  high  honor,  and  affording 

a  grand  opportunity  of  cultivating  his  literary  tastes.     The 

students,  hearing  of  the  choice,  had  been  in  front  of  his  hotel 

cheering  him  for  some  time  ;  but  the  same  evening  came  the 

committee  from  the  church  in  Brooklyn,  and   he  who  had 

promised  to  preach  the  Gospel  had  no  difficulty  in  making 

his  choice. 

"New  York,  April  22,  1850. 
Charles  Butler,  Esq., 

President  of  the  Council  of  the  New  York  University. 
My  Dear  Sir  :  Having  learned  that  I  have  been  named  in  connection 
with  the  vacant  chancellorship  of  your  Institution,  by  gentlemen  for  the 
honor  and  kindness  of  whose  preference  I  am  deeply  grateful,  it  is  due 
to  the  Council  and  myself  that  I  should  express  my  desire  not  to  be  con- 
sidered as  a  candidate  for  this  office.  Yours  very  truly, 

Geo.  W.  Bethune." 

"  Hotel  St.  Dekis,  Dec.  4,  1852. 

The  Rev.  Dr.  Bethune's  compliments  to  Mr.  Ullman,  and  begs 
to  say,  that  the  enclosed  tickets  for  Madame  Sontag's  concert  of  last 
evening,  did  not  reach  him  until  this  morning. 

Dr.  Bethune  has  also  to  acknowledge  a  very  courteous  invitation,  also 
enclosed,  to  Madame  Sontag's  rehearsal  on  Saturday  morning  last,  with 
a  polite  offer  of  tickets  for  any  of  Madame  Sontag's  concerts. 

In  declining  these  invitations.  Dr.  Bethune  only  obeys  a  rule  he  has 

LAST    LETTER   OF    MRS.    J.    BETHUNE.  269 

laid  down  for  himself,  never  to  accept  gratuitous  favors,  which  he  can- 
not hope  in  any  way  to  reciprocate. 

Dr.  Betliune  has  been  delighted  in  listening  to  Madame  Sontag,  and 
hopes  to  have  the  same  high  gratification  when  the  concerts  come  on 
his  disengaged  evenings  ;  but  he  must  he  permitted  to  go  in  on  the  same 
footing  Avith  the  vast  multitude,  and  contribute  his  mite  to  the  aggregate 
return  of  a  grateful  public  for  the  very  remarkable  enjoyment  Madam 
Sontag's  visit  has  brought  to  us  here  ;  a  return  which  he  hopes  may  be, 
if  possible,  as  great  as  the  amiable  talent  which  calls  it  forth.  Mr. 
Ullraan  will,  therefore,  pardon  the  request  that  Dr.  Bethune's  name  may 
be  left  oflP  the  free  list  altogether." 

Dr.  Bethune  to  Mrs.  J.  Bethune.  "Boston,  Feb.  1,  1850. 

My  Beloved  Mother  :  I  have  come  here  from  Providence  this 
morning,  and  have  had  my  heart  full  of  you,  remembering  that  this  is 
your  birthday.  Dearest  mother,  how  thankful  I  am  to  God  for  sparing 
you  to  me,  and  to  so  much  usefulness  so  long.  Of  all  my  blessings 
next  to  those  of  the  Gospel,  I  have  always  reckoned  your  prayers  and 
counsels  and  cares  for  me,  among  the  chiefest.  Repay  you  I  never 
can.  Would  that  I  could  do  more  towards  it ;  but  dear  mother,  you 
know  the  deep,  grateful,  devoted  affection,  of  your  ever  affectionate 
son,  George." 

The  foUowiDg  is  the  last  of  Mrs.  Joanna  Bethune^s  let- 
ters to  her  son  ;  the  excellent  and  noble  lady's  hand  has  be- 
come very  tremulous,  but  her  love  is  as  strong  as  ever  : 

"  Nov.  15,  1852. 
My  Beloved  Son  :  George  McCartee  mentioned  at  breakfast  that 
you  proposed  returning  to  the  city  this  week.  Now,  my  dear,  I  think 
you  had  better  delay  it  till  the  first  of  the  week;  you  certainly  could  not 
preach,  or  ought  not,  and  the  first  of  the  week  will  be  time  enough.  I 
need  not  say  how  happy  I  will  be  to  have  you  with  me,  but  your  health 
is  most  to  be  attended  to.  lam  pretty  well,  and  so  is  George.  With 
love  and  respect  to  all  with  you,  dear,  dear  son, 

Your  affectionate  mother, 

J.  Bethune." 

270  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

Soon  after  this  time  Mrs.  Bethiuie's  brain  softened,  but 
her  son  remained  ever  her  faithful  and  tender  guardian. 

This  seems  a  suitable  place  to  say  a  few  words  of  the 
lectures,  which  our  pastor  was  so  often  called  to  deliver 
before  learned  bodies,  or  popular  assemblages.  His  Phila- 
delphia congregation  had  spoken  with  pride  and  satisfac- 
tion of  their  pastor,  as  one  who  not  only  faithfully  minis- 
tered unto  them,  but  went  forth  among  all  people,  and  was 
useful  every  where.  This  was  true,  and  had  he  accepted 
all  the  invitations  urged  on  him,  he  would  soon  have  worn 
out  his  health.  An  emphatic  warning  from  his  friend  and 
physician.  Dr.  Dunglison,  caused  him  to  be  wise  in  time. 
On  one  occasion  he  was  asked  to  abate  his  price  in  regard 
to  the  poor  people  of  a  country  village.  He  writes  in 
reply  : 

"  My  Dear  Sir  :  I  regret  being  obliged  to  explain  my  note  of  the 
6th.  The  invitations  to  lecture  which  I  refuse,  are  ten  times  as  many 
as  those  I  accept.  Lecturing  is  disagreeable  to  me.  I  should  greatly 
prefer  not  to  lecture  at  all,  as  it  often  interferes  with  my  more  sacred 
duties,  besides  involving  a  very  troublesome  correspondence,  and  other 
not  slight  annoyances.  I  am  therefore  compelled  to  adopt  fixed  rules,  to 
avoid  affronting,  by  any  partiality  (as  I  have  friends  scattered  here  and 
there  over  the  country),  and  to  get  rid  of  as  many  lectures  as  I  can.  I  set 
my  fee  at  $  50,  not  so  much  witli  the  purpose  of  getting  it,  as  to  avoid 
being  asked  to  lecture  anywhere.  That  ($  50,  with  my  expenses)  is 
the  fee,  or  rather  the  lowest  fee  I  have  asked  in  answer  to  every  request, 
and  is  what  I  receive  for  every  lecture  I  delivered  this  season,  except 
one,  which  I  considered  myself  bound  to  give,  by  a  last  year's  promise. 
Besides,  requests  to  lecture  for  charitable  purposes,  are  sufficiently  nu- 
merous to  keep  me  doing  nothing  else  in  lecturing,  did  I  comply  with 
them  all.  It  is  sometimes  the  poor,  sometimes  a  church,  sometimes  a 
parsonage,  etc.,  so  that  were  I  to  deviate  from  my  rule  for  one,  I  must  for 
all,  and,  therefore,  I  do  it  for  none. 

The  fees  I  get  for  lecturing,  enable  me   to  do   many  acts  of  charity, 

lecturers'  fees.  271 

such  that  I  could  not  otherwise,  and  the  demands  on  ray  purse  by  the 
poor  of  Brooklyn,  are  quite  as  heavy,  I  doubt  not,  as  those  of  the  poor 
at  Belleville  on  yours. 

Another  thing :  where  I  am  known,  nobody  will  suspect  me  of  being 
under  the  pecuniary  necessity,  or  of  having  the  disposition,  to  drive  a 
bargain  in  such  matters ;  but  I  think  it  the  more  my  duty,  as  I  shall 
not  be  suspected  of  mercenary  motives,  to  contend  for  the  right  of  in- 
tellectual labour  to  its  reward.  You  would  not  think  it  right  to  ask  a 
trader  or  a  mechanic,  to  give  fifty  per  cent,  off  his  price,  to  the  poor  of 
your  place.  You  could  make  your  poor  very  comfortable  without  going 
out  of  your  town,  at  that  rate.  Now  think  of  it,  my  dear  sir,  have 
you  a  right  to  ask  Dr.  D.  or  myself,  or  any  one  else,  to  do  so,  be- 
cause our  labour  is  intellectual,  and  not  manual?  I  think  of  my  breth- 
ren far  more  than  of  myself  in  this  matter,  for  most  cheerfully  would  I 
lecture  at  Belleville,  for  no  other  reward  than  the  pleasure  of  obliging 
my  friends,  if  I  could  do  so,  as  I  said  in  my  former  note,  '  consistently .* 
In  town,  where  they  have  had  any  experience  of  lectures,  in  New  England, 
especially,  they  have  given  over  connecting  cliaritablc  purposes  with 
their  causes,  at  least  so  far  as  the  pay  of  the  lecturer  is  concerned.  If 
money  is  needed  for  any  town  purpose,  it  would  be  more  easy  for  each 
one  to  pay  double  for  his  ticket,  than  to  take  half  from  the  lecturer's 

I  have  been  thus  explicit,  that  you  may  see  clearly  the  reasons  of  my 
former  note.  My  lecture  is  not  in  any  case  worth  what  I  ask ;  but  the 
trouble  it  costs  me  is  worth  more  at  a  fair  rate. 

And  now  my  dear  sir,  having  explained  myself,  I  must  ask  you  to  re- 
lieve me  from  my  contingent  promise  to  lecture  at  Belleville  this  season. 
I  cannot  deviate  from  my  rule,  but,  at  the  same  time,  I  cannot  think  of 
burdening  a  charitable  purpose  by  demands  of  money  for  myself. 

At  some  other  time,  when  my  mind  is  clearer,  and  my  friends  desire 
it,  I  may  have  the  opportunity  of  serving  them  at  Belleville,  but  not 

A  friend  of  Dr.  Bethune,  who,  like  the  rest,  puts  in  his 
plea  for  a  lecture  or  address,  has  the  thoughtfulness  to  say, 
"  It  must  be  no  small  task  upon  you  merel}^  to  reply  to  ap- 
plications  of  a  particular  nature,  especially  at  this  season 

272  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

of  preparing  for  the  Anniversaries,  when  Dr.  Bethune  is  al- 
ways put  down,  '  to  be  had,  if  possible.'  '' 

Dr.  Bethune's  own  account  of  his  lectures,  is  the  best 
that  can  be  given  : 

Letter  to  Dr.  Dunglison.  "Brooklyn,  Nov.  14,  1854. 

The  lectures  I  have  ready,  are  what  are  called  popular,  that  is,  sepa- 
rate lectures  on  miscellaneous  topics  ;  for  all  the  world  like  our  quondam 
Athenian  Institute  lectures.  Thus  I  have  one  on  '  Lectures  and  Lectur- 
ers '  (an  introductory),  considering  popular  lectures  and  lecturers  in  an 
amusing,  but  I  hope  not  unserviceable,  light.  Another  on  '  Common 
Sense,'  which,  by  the  way,  is  long  enough  for  two,  and  a  mixture  of  met- 
aphysics and  familiar  illustrations.  A  third  on  '  V/ork  and  Labor;  the 
moral  uses  of  the  distinction  between  them ' ;  the  best  of  my  lectures. 
Another  on  '  The  Orator  of  the  Present  Day,'  originally  a  Phi  Beta 
Kappa  oration  for  Brown  University,  inquiring  into  the  secrets  of  tlie 
orator's  power,  &c.  Another  on  '  Oracles,'  and  another  blocked  out, 
but  not  written,  on  Divination  ;  in  both  of  which,  I  strike  at  the  Spiritual- 
isms (so-called)  of  the  present  day,  while  I  give  illustrations  of  the 
subject  itself.  I  shall  try  to  write  another  during  the  winter,  but  am 
not  sure  what  on.  Such  are  the  lectures  I  have  read,  one  or  more  in  a 
season,  here,  in  New  York,  New  Haven,  &c.,  &c." 

These  lectures  were  delivered  all  over  the  land,  and  as 
they  did  much  to  increase  the  reputation  of  the  speaker, 
besides  affording  substantial  gain,  it  may  be  interesting 
to  know  the  subjects  of  those  remaining  unpublished : 
"  The  Moral  Opinions  of  the  Ancients '' ;  "Socrates,  Pythag- 
oras, and  Plato  ^' ;  "  Aristotle,  Zeno,  Epicurus  '^ ;  "  Holland 
and  the  Hollanders,^'  two  lectures,  and  very  popular; 
''Divination";  two  lectures  on  "Epidemics,''  and  one 
on  "False  Estimates."  It  is  hoped  that  a  due  selection 
will  be  made  for  publication,  as  it  would  constitute  the 
most  charming  volume  of  Dr.  Bethuue's,  that  has  seen 
the  light  of  day. 




This  chapter  is  devoted  to  another  specialty  of  Dr.  Be- 
thune.  If  there  was  one  point  in  which  he  outshone  his 
compeers,  it  was  in  pkitform  speaking ;  such  as  was  called  for 
at  religious  anniversaries,  or  in  the  discussion  of  important 
public  questions.  His  fluent  oratory  and  quickness  of  rep- 
artee would  have  made  him  an  invaluable  member  of  a  po- 
litical party,  in  either  House  of  Congress.  But  he  had  more, 
he  had  a  sound,  practical  common  sense,  whicli  commanded 
the  popular  heart.  Little  justice  can  be  done  to  this  distin- 
guished trait  of  our  minister,  in  the  short  space  allotted. 
We  can  only  present  specimens  that  may  illustrate  his  pow- 
er. The  first  that  we  offer  is  a  speech  made  in  behalf  of  his 
favorite  Colonization  scheme.  His  efforts  in  this  cause  were 
frequent  ;  probably  one  speech  was  made  every  year  after 
his  entrance  into  public  life  ;  the  key-note  to  them  all  is 
found  in  his  expression  "  From  the  bottom  of  my  heart  I  hate 
slavery",  a  feature  that  brought  him  earl^^  in  his  career 
into  fierce  conflict  with  a  distinguished  Southern  agitator, 
Hon.  Henry  A.  Wise.  The  speech  quoted  was  made  at 
Washington,  before  the  American  Colonization  Society,  Feb- 
ruar}^,  1850,  Hon.  Henry  Clay  being  President. 

"  I  am  not  in  the  habit  of  making  apologies  when  I  rise  to  speak, 

because  I  tliink  when  one  sees   reason  for  not  speaking,  he  should 

hold  his   tongue.     I  should  be  lacking  both  in  common  sense  and 

common  modesty  did  I  not   feel  the   difficulty  of  speaking  upon  a 

18  ' 

274  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

question  like  this,  at  a  time  when  everything  relating  to  the 
black  race,  coming  otherwise  than  from  a  Southern  man,  is  looked  upon 
with  suspicion  and  jealousy.  Not,  sir,  that  I  would  hesitate  to  avow  ray 
own  sentiments ;  I  would  never  live  where  I  may  not  speak  my  consci- 
entious opinions,  but,  sir,  we  are  upon,  as  you  have  very  justly  said,  a 
common  ground  here  to-night,  where  no  advocate  of  this  cause  has  a 
right  to  compromise  the  Society  by  the  expression  of  any  individual  opin- 
ion which  might  clash  with,  or  in  any  way  seem  to  be  antagonistic  to  the 
opinions  of  others.  I  had,  however,  this  consolation,  sir,  in  coming  here. 
I  knew,  sir,  if  you  will  permit  me  to  say,  I  knew  that  you  would  open 
this  meeting  with  some  remarks.  I  anticipated  that  they  would  be  short, 
but  falling  from  a  mouth  that  never  uttered  a  word  without  a  meaning, 
and  whose  one  sentence  is  worth,  in  expression  and  force,  more  than  a 
hundred  such  as  mine. 

I  was  very  sure  that  principles  would  be  advanced  and  established, 
behind  which  I  might  venture  to  speak.  I  have  no  more  fear  of  the  col- 
lision of  conflicting  opinions,  than  I  should  fear  the  spray  of  the  ocean 
after  it  had  dashed  against  the  adamantine  rock.  It  has  been  well  said, 
sir,  by  yourself  and  the  gentleman  who  has  preceded  me,  that  this  So- 
ciety has  suffered  the  most  virulent  opposition.  It  has  been  most  truly 
opposed  by  the  fanatics  at  the  North,  and  the  fanatics  at  the  South.  I 
call  that  man  a  fanatic,  sir,  who,  under  the  influence  of  a  perverted  con- 
science, allows  malignity  to  take  the  place  of  benevolence ;  who  lets  him- 
self down  to  abuse  without  measure  his  honest  and  logical  opponent ;  and 
is  not  willing  to  listen  to  reasons  upon  the  question  in  which  all  are  con- 
cerned. I  care  not  where  that  man  lives,  whether  at  the  North  or  in  the 
South,  in  the  East  or  in  the  West,  he  is  a  fana.ic,  and  he  is  dangerous, 
just  in  proportion  as  he  seems  to  himself  to  be  conscientious,  because 
his  false  conscience  assumes  the  aspect,  and  to  a  certain  extent,  the  force 
of  right  and  duty.  There  is  an  opposite  fanaticism,  and  the  imitation  of 
the  fanatic  by  those  who  have  not  the  excuse,  which  vents  itself  in  loud 
words  and  earnest  denunciations.  That  I  fear  not.  The  blusterer  always 
has  been  a  coward,  and  is  not  to  be  dreaded  by  the  wise  man.  Like  the 
bubble,  he  bursts  with  his  own  wind. 

When  we  began  this  cause,  sir,  or  at  least  some  time  after  we  began 
it,  after  it  gained  sufficient  strength  to  provoke  the  opposition  of  him  who 
moves  the  hearts  of  the  children  of  evil,  we  find  that  the  Society  was 


charged  with  doing   absolutely  wrong,  wrong  it  was  said  to  the  cause  of 
the  black  man,  because  it  took  the  free  black  away  from  the  South  in- 
stead of  permitting  him  to   remain  like  a  thorn  and  a  fester  in  the  sides 
of  those  who  were  his  brethren  in  bondage.     This  was  charged  against 
it.     Another  was  that  we  took  away  the  black  man  who  had  been  born 
upon  our  soil,  and  who,    by  the  arrangements  of  Providence    who  gave 
him  a  birth-place  here,  had  as  much  right  to  rest  himself  here  as  you. 
We  were  told  again,   it  was  preposterous  to  talk  of  Christianizing  the 
continent  of  Africa,  where  such  instruments  were  to  be  used;  the  refuse, 
as  was  said,  of  the  black  race  of  the  United  States,     Now,  sir,  what 
has  been  the  consequence  ?     What  have  we  seen  but  this  very  remark- 
able fact,   that   the   same  people  who  have  opposed  the  Society,  have 
adopted  the  very  measures  for  which  they  impeach  the  Society  ?   As  to 
the  taking  away  the  black  man  of  the  South,  it  is  notorious  that  they 
are  doing  it  in  various  ways.     It  is  notorious,  also  sir,  that  they  have 
endeavored  to  establish  colonies,  not  exactly  within  the  limits   of  the 
United    States,  but  through  their  assistance,  and,  to  a  certain  extent, 
liberal  assistance,  within  the  limits  of  the  British  Possessions  on  the 
Continent ;  and,  in  their  efforts  to  colonize,  have  moved  the  black  man 
from    the  South,  of  which  we  were  accused  as  a  crime  ;  taking  him 
away    from  the  soil  he  had  a    right  to,  and  moving  him  away  to  the 
North,  sir,  whose  frosts  are  as  hurtful  to  his  constitution  as  the  heats 
of  the   South  are  to  those  of  us    who  are  born    in  the    North.     Nay 
sir — nay  gentlemen,  and  as  I  see  my  friends  with  ready  pens  by  me, 
I  beg  them  to  remember  I  speak  of  him  with  respect.     I  honor  him 
for  being  actuated  by  the  very  best  intentions,  however  I  might  differ 
with  him  in  the  manner  in  which  he  carries  them  out.     I  speak  of  Mr. 
Gerrit   Smith.     Would  to  God  his  large  heart  was  with  us  still.     He 
himself  has   offered  his  acres  of  wild  land  in  the  coldest   section  of 
the  State  of  New  York  for  a  colonization   scheme.     It  seems   then,  sir, 
that  tliey  have  acknowledged  tlie  truth  of  the  classic  maxim,  that  '  it  is 
lawful  to  learn  from  an  enemy,'  for  they  have  taken  the  first  leaf  out 
of  our  book. 

One  thing,  sir,  we  were  told,  we  were  reproached  for  endeavoring 
to  persuade  the  people  of  the  United  States  that  Africa  was  the  proper 
place  for  the  black  man  ;  that  this  land  of  Christian  privileges  was  the 
place  to  which  Providence,  who  maketh  the  wrath  of  man  to  praise  him, 

276  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

had  brought  him,  and  here  he  had  remained.  It  has  been  said  that 
ve  could  not  evangelize  Africa  through  the  instrumentality  of  such 
agents.  What  have  they  done,  sir  ?  Do  you  not  remember  the  his- 
tory of  the  Amistad?  God  in  his  Providence  sent  them  to  our  shores, 
and  these  very  people  they  sent  back  agtiin  to  Africa.  Our  oppo- 
nents have  patterned  after  us,  and  so  far  as  they  have  proceeded,  their 
scheme  is  as  much  like  ours  as  a  badly  managed  scheme  can  be  like 
a  good  one  for  the  same  purposes. 

Now  here,  sir,  is  the  demonstration  of  it  in  the  very  mouths,  in  the 
hands,  of  our  most  virulent  opponents  at  the  North  in  favor  of  out 
scheme,  and,  sir,  no  doubt  all  the  honest  men  there  among  them,  will 
be  with  us  still.  We  were  told  on  the  other  hand  at  the  South,  by 
the  fanatics  there,  it  was  preposterous  to  think  of  elevating  the  black 
man  ;  God  had  made  him  inferior ;  God  intended  him  for  a  servant ; 
it  was  flat  flying  in  the  face  of  Providence,  to  endeavor  to  make  him 
anything  else,  and  that  he  never  could  succeed ;  his  whole  history  in 
all  the  past,  from  time  immemorial,  had  been  that  of  degradation, 
slavery,  ignorance  and  misery :  sir,  the  history  is  true ;  such  has 
been  the  history  of  the  black  man,  and  I  consider  that  amidst  all  the 
wonderful  events  of  this  remarkable  century  in  which  we  live,  there  is 
none  so  remarkable  as  the  present  condition  of  the  Republic  of  Liberia. 

What  has  been  the  history  of  the  black  man  !  That  everywhere  it 
has  been  that  of  slavery,  of  degradation,  of  ignorance,  even  in  Africa, 
in  his  own  native  land,  is  perfectly  notorious  to  all  who  know  any- 
thing of  the  subject.  He  is  in  the  condition  of  a  slave  who  holds  his 
life  and  all  that  he  can  call  dear  to  him,  at  the  will  of  his  savage,  des- 
pot master ;  but,  sir,  go  back  to  that  book  which  Providence,  after 
the  lapse  of  thousands  of  years,  has  opened  for  us.  We  may  read  there 
the  records  of  his  past  history. 

Go  to  the  monuments  of  Egypt  and  you  will  find  there  the 
black  man  a  slave  ;  emphatically  a  slave.  I  believe  you  can  scarcely 
find  an  instance  in  which  he  appears  upon  those  monuments,  in 
which  he  does  not  bear  witli  him  tributes  about  his  person,  in 
token  that  the  people  from  whom  he  comes  are  subject  to  the  Pha- 
raohs of  Egypt. 

It  is  supposed  that  no  one  can  make  a  calculation  other  than  that  of 
a  supposition.  It  is  supposed,  however,  that  over  that  vast  continent 
there  can  be  scattered  not  less   than  a  hundred  and  fifty  millions ; 


probably  when  we  come  to  penetrate  into  its  hitherto  impenetrable 
depths  we  shall  find  them  to  be  one  quarter  more,  judging  by  the 
area,  and  by  what  we  know  of  certain  portions  of  it  very  recently 

What  has  Africa  been  ?  I  speak  not  of  that  section  of  Africa  that 
was  inhabited  by  other  races.  I  cannot  go  into  the  romance  of  speak- 
ing of  Egypt  and  its  people ;  its  kings,  its  philosophers,  and  its 
saints.  I  know  very  well,  sir,  every  one  knows,  they  were  under,  I 
speak  of  that  portion  of  Africa  inhabited  by  the  black  man,  the  woolly- 
headed  African,  (laughter)  and  wherever  he  has  these  characteristics 
he  is  in  the  deepest  degradation  ;  at  least  so  far  as  explored.  He  has 
been  for  thousands  and  thousands  of  years  so,  and  so  far  back  that 
history  tells  us  no  other  tale.  And  that  gentleman  who  has  but  re- 
cently returned  from  Liberia,  that  gentleman  who  knows  Liberia  from  a 
long  residence,  will  tell  you  that  nowhere  upon  the  face  of  the  earth, 
nowhere  in  time  past  or  present  has  there  existed,  or  does  there  exist, 
a  superstition  so  base,  so  cruel,  so  horrid,  so  re\olting,  as  that  which 
reigns  over  the  minds  and  hearts  of  the  native  Africans. 

It  is  true,  sir,  that  the  African  has  been  always  degraded  ;  always 
been  oppressed ;  always  been  in  ignorance.  It  might  be  thought,  sir, 
that  one  who  had  been  crushed  so  long,  could  never  rise,  but  like  that 
giant  of  old,  of  whom  we  read  in  classic  fable,  upon  whom  Etna  was 
put,  his  breast  nmst  be  so  bruised,  his  limbs  so  paralyzed  by  the  long 
pressure  of  the  superincumbent  weight,  that  he  cannot  erect  himself 
as  a  man,  and  take  any  place  in  the  way  of  advancement  and  civiliza- 
tion. But,  sir,  there  is  a  light  brighter  than  that  of  reason ;  there  is  a 
happy  spring  from  a  nobler  source  than  that  of  passion  ;  there  is  the 
light  of  religion  and  the  light  of  promise  shedding  their  rays  far  in 
the  future.  What  does  that  religion  teach  him  ?  I  know  no  one  who 
has  common  sense  will  contend  for  the  absolute  equality  of  all  men  in 
physical  strength,  in  intellectual,  in  ability  to  advance  in  the  career  of 
civilization.  jSTo  one  contends  for  this  ;  I  am  speaking  of  those  funda- 
mental rights  every  roan  has,  or  should  be  acknowledged  to  have. 
God  made  the  black  man  as  well  as  you  or  me,  and  unless  we  give  up 
the  Bible,  which  is  the  charter  of  our  hopes,  and  the  ground  of  our 
faith,  we  must  believe  he  came  from  the  same  original  pair,  and  we  are 
brethren,  brethren  by  the  fiat  of  the  Creator. 

We  cannot  divorce  ourselves  from  this  fraternity,  except  we  fling 

278  MEMOIR   OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

off  the  devotion  of  our  Father  who  is  in  Heaven ;  when  He  who 
spake  as  never  man  spoke,  and  who  justified  his  sympathy  with  the 
poor  and  the  rich,  and  gave  himself  to  the  poor,  when  He  repeated  from 
his  divine  lips  the  law  of  the  ancient  Israelites,  and  tells  us  we  must 
love  our  neighbor  as  ourselves.  Pie  told  you,  sir,  he  told  me,  he  tells 
all  of  us,  that  wherever  a  human  heart  beats,  wherever  a  human  heart 
glows,  wherever  a  man  stands  in  the  image  of  God,  there  is  our  neigh- 
bor, whom  we  are  bound  to  love  as  ourselves. 

I  care  not  where  he  is  ;  whether  in  China,  whether  in  Africa,  or 
whether  it  be  in  America.  I  care  not  who  claims  rule  over  him  ;  he  is 
my  brother ;  he  is  my  neighbor ;  I  am  bound  to  love  him,  and  God 
will  hold  me  accursed  if  I  do  not  do  this.  Nay,  sir,  through  the 
teaching  of  God's  Holy  Spirit,  I  am  taught  my  sins,  and  that  there  is 
but  one  fountain  open  for  sin  and  uncleanness.  When  I  follow  the 
guiding  of  the  Holy  Spirit,  and  it  leads  me  to  the  foot  of  the  cross 
whence  springs  a  living  fountain  of  divine  blood  shed  for  the  lost, 
the  unworthy  and  the  guilty,  I  find  kneeling  at  the  foot  of  that  cross, 
washing  himself  in  that  same  sacred  stream,  as  welcome  to  my  Master 
as  myself,  as  readily  admitted  into  the  family  of  God  as  the  highest 
among  the  children  of  men  ;  I  find  the  black  man  washed  in  the  same 
blood  with  me,  sanctified  by  the  same  Spirit ;  adopted  by  the  same 
God,  and  made  heir  of  the  same  happy  immortality.  How  dare  I 
refuse,  how  dare  I  refuse  him  all  the  strength  of  Christian  sjnnpathy 
and  Christian  benevolence  ?  I  know  not  how,  sir ;  while  that  Bible 
lasts  I  must  follow  it ;  and,  sir,  it  is  upon  this  principle  that  the  So- 
ciety is  acting. 

We  are,  as  you  very  justly  observed,  united  by  that  simple  article 
of  our  constitution  which  covers  him,  and  doubtless  does  cover  persons 
of  different  notions  as  a  detail  of  its  workings,  and  gives  us  a  right  to 
differ ;  makes  us  sovereigns  in  our  own  spheres ;  while  we  are  united 
in  the  great  object :  but,  sir,  I  do  not  go  too  far,  I  am  sure  you  will 
not  refuse  me  permission  to  say,  that  the  Colonization  Society  is 
the  combination  of  the  true  friends  of  the  colored  race  in  the 
United  States.  I  mean  the  friends  of  the  black  man  who  desire  to 
see  him  elevated. 

Now,  sir,  what  do  we  see  in  the  year  '93  and  '94  ?  I  am  not  good 
at  dates,  sir,  but,  somewhere  about  there,  the  negroes  of  St.  Domingo, 
the  whole  of  the  population  of  that  island,  or  the  greater  part  of  it. 


rose  in  revolt,  and  have  endeavored  to  establish  one  ever  since ;  en- 
deavored to  form  themselves  into  some  sort  of  government.  What  do 
we  see?  Take  that  monkey  empire  (laughter)  that  has  been  the 
world's  laughing  stock ;  look  at  the  result  of  their  plans  :  Faustin 
I.,  with  his  cordon  of  dukes  and  nobles  around  him,  so  that  there 
can  be  scarcely  a  private  man  left  in  his  dominions  (laughter).  There 
is  the  result  in  one  part.  Compare  it,  sir,  with  the  Liberian  Repub- 
lic. Compare  it  with  the  enlightened,  free  and  intellectual  exercise 
of  every  principle  and  right  that  man  can  claim,  moderated  and  held 
from  excess  by  the  wisest  restraints  and  the  most  salutary  arrange- 
ment. Sir,  I  do  not  believe  there  exists  upon  earth  a  government 
whose  constitution  is  more  liberal,  more  enlightened,  or  more  judi- 
cious, having  in  it,  we  believe,  the  elements  of  greater  permanence 
than  the  Republic  of  Liberia.  It  is,  sir,  the  black  man  ;  it  is  not  the 
Avhite  man  ruling  over  him  as  in  Sierra  Leone.  It  is  not  the  white  man 
forcing  him  on  as  in  the  British  "West  Indies. 

jSTor  is  it  the  black  man  where  the  mixed  race  is  flogging  him  and 
chaining  him,  as  Avas  done  in  the  beginning  of  freedom  in  the  West 
Indies.  It  is  the  black  man  governing  himself,  governing  himself 
according  to  written  statutes  ;  governing  himself  with  an  enlightened 
view  of  his  own  worth,  his  own  dignity,  his  relations  to  his  fellow-man, 
and  his  confidence  in  the  power  and  justice  of  God,  who  loves  His 
children,  it  were  impossible  to  doubt  it,  who  loves  his  children  all 
alike,  and  alike  vindicates  his  mercy  by  the  history  of  that  race,  as  well 
as  our  own. 

ISTow,  sir,  there  is  the  reply  that  we  make  to  the  fanaticism  of  the 
South.  Look  at  our  Liberia,  look  at  it,  sir,  we  challenge  investiga- 
tion. The  ships  of  almost  every  civilized  nation  have  touched  at  its 
port ;  emissaries  from  our  own  country,  or  rather  messengers,  have 
gone  to  examine  into  the  existing  state  of  things,  and  if  testimony  has 
been  unanimous  to  any  nation,  it  is  that  in  favor  of  the  Republic  of 
Liberia.  Nay,  sir,  it  has  been  more  than  hinted  at  by  the  eloquent 
gentleman  who  has  preceded  me.  Great  Britain  has  acknowledged 
the  superiority  of  our  scheme  over  her  own. 

Since  that,  Clarkson  and,  by  implication,  Wilberforce,  have  been  actu- 
ated against  us.  Tliese  good  men  were  brought  into  it,  however,  in  the 
feebleness  of  their  expiring  years,  at  least  Clarkson  in  his  feebleness,  to 
record  a  senticjent  in  opposition  to  our  society.     What  has  been  the 

280  MEMOm   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

result?  Great  Britain,  in  one  of  her  ablest  periodicals,  and  by  one  of 
her  ablest  men,  has  declared  that  Sierra  Leone  must  be  abandoned; 
that  it  is  a  failure ;  and  with  the  same  voice  they  have  pointed  to  the 
Bepublic  of  Liberia,  and  declared  it  to  be  successful.  Nay,  after  all  the 
money  that  has  been  spent  upon  that  very  coast  by  Great  Britain,  by 
this  country  and  others,  money,  sir,  is  but  the  simplest  portion  of  the 
tribute  we  have  given.  We  have  sent  our  gallant  officers  to  die  upon 
that  plague-smitten  coast;  many,  many  a  family  in  this  land,  more  in 
England,  have  been  clothed  in  the  sackcloth  of  bitterness  from  the  loss 
of  life  wasted  in  good  intentions,  but  miserable  failures,  to  suppress  the 
slave  trade  ;  but  now,  sir,  for  seven  hundred  miles  of  the  entire  coast  of 
that  section  of  Africa,  in  a  short  time,  from  the  further  part  of  Liberia  to 
Sierra  Leone,  this  society  will  have  destroyed  the  slave  trade.  "What 
navies  could  not  do,  and  what  navies  with  millions  of  cartouches  and 
hundreds  of  cannon  and  thousands  of  men,  our  little  republic  with  its 
little  army  and  its  little  treasury  have  accomplished. 

It  is  probable  if  the  white  man  had  done  it,  as  my  friend  remarked,  we 
should  have  exulted  over  it,  it  would  have  been  claimed  as  a  triumph  of 
the  white  man's  superiority ;  but  it  has  not.  We  have  nursed  him,  sir, 
he  was  a  child,  but  now  the  black  man  is  erect,  tall,  and  as  strong  as  a 
man,  but  a  child  in  intellect,  in  habit,  and  in  foresight. 

We  had  to  nurse  him  ;  but  he  is  now  a  man.  I  remember  well,  sir, 
you  remember  it  well,  and  many  of  us  here,  with  what  fear  and  trem- 
bling we  ventured  upon  the  experiment.  But  holy  and  wise  men  believed 
it  possible,  especially  after  the  career  of  that  glorious  man,  that  martyr  to 
this  cause,  whose  mind  and  heart  had  a  strength  rarely  paralleled  ;  I 
mean  Buchanan,  the  last  white  governor  of  Liberia — the  people 
who  hear  me  may  perhaps  smile  at  it  as  an  exaggeration — he  was 
one  of  the  greatest  men  that  God  ever  made,  in  mind,  in  heart,  or 
in  appearance,  —  after  his  career,  whom  God  sent,  I  am  sure  of  it, 
God  sent  him  to  make  the  way  for  a  black  man  to  assume  the  reins  of 

He  died,  sir;  and  at  last  a  colored  man  governs  the  colony,  and  he 
governs  the  colony  better  than  it  was  ever  governed  before,  not 
altogether  in  favor  of  his  own  credit,  but  also  to  the  credit  of  the  people, 
who  have  been  nursed  into  self-government.  What  is  a  Republic 
without  self-government?     There  is  that  colony,  and  that  Republic, 


aye,  sir,  Republics  are  always  longer  lived  than  Monarchies.  It  is  the 
history  of  the  world,  unless  perhaps  some  of  the  great  empires  of  whose 
history  -we  know  comparatively  little.  But,  sir,  that  Republic  of  Liberia 
will  outlive  every  kingdom  of  Europe,  and  may  not  live  very  long  either 
to  do  that.  (Applause.)  Kow,  sir,  I  will  discuss  this  point  only  for  a 
moment;  here  is  the  demonstration  given  that  the  black  man  can 
govern  himself.  We  have  made  the  demonstration,  sir,  and  it  has  been 
acknowledged  sir,  that  he  can  govern  himself.  By  whom,  sir,  have  you 
stated  that  the  Republic  had  been  acknowledged;  by  whom,  sir? 
would  to  God  you  had  not  been  obliged  to  falter  as  your  heart  compels 
you  to  do.  Acknowledged  by  Great  Britain  and  not  by  us  ;  and  why,  sir? 
I  am  willing  to  give  Great  Britain  the  credit  of  philanthropy.  I  do  not 
forget  she  has  other  qualities  besides  philanthropy  ;  trade,  sir,  she  loves 
trade.  What  was  it  that  gave  to  it  its  predominance  ?  I  can  trace  no 
characteristic  in  the  Anglo-Saxon  that  gave  them  more  force  than  their 
love  of  trade. 

You  can  trace  it,  sir,  in  all  the  history  of  the  Anglo-Saxon  race,  but  it 
has  been  from  the  Republic  of  the  Netherlands,  we  have  learned  the  great 
lesson  of  trade,  and  from  whose  shores  went  the  Anglo-Saxons  who  have 
given  to  England  her  great  national  characteristic,  trade  !  trade !  trade ! 
This  is  what  the  Anglo-Saxon  conquers  by  and  conquers  for.  Find  me 
a  spot,  sir,  upon  the  face  of  the  earth  where  they  have  not  smuggled  a 
piece  of  their  goods  and  merchandise.  You  cannot  find  a  British  port, 
but  there  you  will  find  the  haunt  of  the  smuggler  who  is  protected  by 
those  very  forts.  The  far-famed  Gibraltar,  with  its  battlements  and 
garrison,  is  little  better  than  a  smuggling  port  to  take  advantage  of  the 
weaker  people  of  the  Mediterranean  and  its  neighborhood.  But,  sir, 
what  is  the  case  now?  there  is  a  little  chance  of  trade  open  upon  a 
certain  coast  of  our  own  continent.  It  looks  small  as  a  mosquito ;  but, 
sir,  the  hum  of  that  mosquito  has  not  been  unheard  across  the  broad 
Atlantic,  and  the  queenly  Victoria  shakes  hand  by  proxy,  with  the 
breechless  young  vagabond  who  is  called  the  king.  For  what,  sir?  For 
trade,  to  make  money.  I  do  not  blame  them  ;  it  is  right  to  make  money 
if  you  can  do  it  honestly  ;  and  I  am  sure  we  are  the  last  people  in  this 
country,  if  we  allow  the  Eastern  States  to  belong  to  us,  to  say  it  is  not 
right  to  make  money.  Sir,  you  have  the  motive  for  the  acknowledgment; 
of  the  independence  of  Liberia ;  I  do  not  say  that  it  is  the  only  motive. 

282  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

I  know  of  no  greater  mistake  in  morals  than  to  suppose  a  man's  actions 
spring  from  one  motive.  The  concurrence  and  concentration  of 
different  motives  bear  upon  the  man ;  some  are  less  easily  deducted 
than  others,  but  still  always  a  combination. 

God  forbid  I  should  question  her  (Great  Britain's)  benevolence  in  tlie 
acknowledgment,  but  I  fear  it  was  done  upon  the  chance  of  penetrating 
Africa  through  those  rivers.  I  fear  that  her  excellent  Governor, 
Roberts,  would  have  gone  home  without  his  acknowledgment.  Now, 
sir,  I  believe  that  we  are  a  philanthropic  people,  and  I  believe  that  we 
love  to  make  money ;  but  I  say,  sir,  that  the  statesman  who  refuses  to 
acknowledge  the  Republic  of  Liberia,  misses  greatly  his  duty  to  the 
United  States  and  his  country,  as  a  commercial  people. 

But,  sir,  I  am  trespassing  upon  a  point  which  will  be  handled  far 
more  ably  by  my  friend  who  has  just  returned  from  the  coast  of  Africa. 
Therefore,  sir,  I  leave  the  subject,  congratulating  ourselves  again  upon 
the  great  success,  and  congratulating  no  one  more  than  yourself,  to 
whose  presiding  skill  and  energy  and  to  whose  high  example  we  owe  so 
much  of  our  success  in  our  scheme.  You  contributed  the  noblest 
donation  of  all  when  you  gave  your  name.  But,  sir,  we  may  all  in  our 
little  spheres  rejoice.  The  smallest  star  in  the  firmament  rejoices  in  the 
light  that  God  has  given  it.  But,  sir,  there  are  those  of  us  here,  as  we 
look  back  to  hours  of  conflict,  who  cannot  say  we  are  scarred  with  a 
hundred  fights,  because  fortunately,  our  armor  was  so  proved,  that  the 
weapons  struck  upon  us  shivered  in  the  grasp  of  the  hand  that  struck 
with  all  the  vehemence  that  malignity  could  give.  Yes,  sir,  we  can 
remember  our  hours  of  darkness  ;  they  were  many  ;  but  how  bright  is 
the  future!  Happy  to  believe  we  have  not  simply  planted  a  little 
shrub,  but  a  mighty  tree  that  has  been  sown  like  a  grain  of  mustard 
seed,  which  yet  shall  wave  its  branches  laden  with  celestial  blessings 
over  the  Continent  of  Africa  and  the  millions  of  the  colored  race.  In 
this  connection,  we  cannot  but  rejoice  that  the  colored  man  was  brought 

Could  he  have  been  educated  for  this  purpose,  where,  I  ask  you,  sir, 
where  could  he  have  been  educated  for  that  career  which  he  is  now 
entering  upon  in  Liberia,  but  in  this  land  where  constitutional  rights  are 
thoroughly  understood,  where  the  right  of  self-government  is  so  clearly 
propagated,  where  the  success  of  our  blessed  institutions  has  shown  by 

SPEECH   IN    SYNOD.  283 

an  irresistible  demonstration  that  freedom  is  the  best  heritage  of  man?" 

To  understand  better  Dr.  Bethune's  position  on  the  ques- 
tion of  Slavery,  we  must  consider  his  course  in  the  Synod 
of  his  own  Church.  In  1855  a  large  classis  in  North  Car- 
olina being  dissatisfied  with  errors  in  the  German  Church, 
asked  for  admission  into  the  Dutch  body.  Dr.  Bethune  op- 
posed the  proceeding". 

•*We  should  feel  very  kindly  toward  these  brethren  who  have  come 
to  us.  They  are  Christian  men,  who  consider  themselves  to  be  suffer- 
ing for  the  sake  of  truth — who  sympathize  with  us  in  doctrine,  and 
who  have  paid  us  the  high  respect  of  asking  to  be  united  with  our  in- 
terest. God  forbid,  therefore,  that  one  word  should  fall  from  my  lips, 
or  from  this  Synod,  which  should  in  any  way  wound  the  feehngs,  or 
show  disrespect  to  these  estimable  brethren. 

If  the  proposition  was  to  exclude  a  sla,ve-holder  from  the  commun- 
ion, I  would  oppose  such  an  uncharitable  and  un-Christian  act.  I 
would  rather  die  than  own  a  slave,  unless  it  were  that,  in  accepting 
the  ownership,  I  did  it  for  his  own  good ;  but  I  would  rather  die  than 
allow  a  Christian  brother  to  be  unjustly  cast  out  of  the  house  of  God, 
when  our  great  Master  paid  the  highest  compliment  he  ever  paid  to  a 
human  being,  in  saying  to  one  who  was  a  slave-owner  and  a  soldier, 
"I  have  not  found  so  great  faith,  no,  not  in  Israel."  But  we  are  not 
called  upon  to  do  this.  In  the  providence  of  God  we  have  been  hap- 
pily freed  from  this  difficulty,  and  I  think  that  we  should  remember 
what  the  wise  man  says,  Avith  a  great  deal  of  point :  *'He  that  passeth 
by  and  meddleth  with  strife  belonging  not  to  him,  is  like  one  who 
taketh  a  dog  by  the  ears  ;"  there  would  be  a  precious  deal  of  howling. 
And  so  I  feel  in  this  case.  Here  we  have  not  the  strife  among  us.  I 
know  there  has  been  an  attempt  to  introduce  it  among  us.  I  have 
seen  with  regret,  movements  made  in  some  part  of  the  Church  to  in- 
dorse the  action  of  a  body  with  whom  we  hold  relations  upon  the  sub- 
ject. If  there  be  an  attempt  to  press  this  matter  in  this  body,  I  for 
one  am  ready  to  swing  clear  of  the  American  Board  of  Commissioners 
of  Foreign  Missions,  rather  than  one  word  should  be  uttered  upon 
Slavery.     I  do  not  agree  with  the  action  of  that  Board,  but  at  the 

284  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

same  time  I  am  willing  to  let  other  people  have  consciences  on  that 
subject ;  but  the  thing  is  to  keep  it  out  of  the  house  here.  I  believe 
that  there  is  no  man  among  us,  unless  he  happens  to  be  carried  away 
by  the  spirit  of  fanaticism,  that  makes  him  forget  the  interests  of  the 
Church,  who  is  willing  to  enter  into  a  discussion  of  the  subject  on  this 
floor,  and  I  therefore  hold  my  tongue,  and  do  not  say  what  I  am  pre- 
pared to  say  in  other  places,  lest  I  do  injustice  to  the  feelmg  of  some 
brethren,  and  thus  create  discussions. 

I  would  not  hold  with  a  class  of  men  who  condemn  every  man  at  the 
South ;  but  at  the  same  time,  I  would  not  say  that  any  one  who  has  a 
conscience  upon  the  subject,  different  from  mine,  should  be  forced  to  take 
action,  which,  if  I  were  in  his  place,  I  would  not  be  willing  to  be  forced 
into.  I  would  say,  '  Come  as  near  to  us  as  possible,'  without  saymg, 
*  Come  in.'  If  they  want  funds  for  their  Seminary,  for  their  Church  ; 
if  they  want  anything  which  we  can  do  for  them,  let  us  do  it.  My 
idea,  illustrated  in  other  words,  is  this  :  Because  our  neighbor  is  a 
good  man  (for  which  we  love  him), if  he  has  a  slight  taint  of  the  small 
pox,  I  do  not  think  he  should  be  allowed  to  innoculate  with  it  our 
whole  Church." 

Having  presented  a  resolution  expressive  of  courtesy  and 
kindness  towards  the  brethren  from  North  Carolina,  but  de- 
clining the  union,  he  continued  : — 

"  That  although  he  might  be  called  a  sneak  and  timid,  yet  he  be- 
lieved they  were  not  called  upon  to  discuss  the  slavery  question.  A 
serpent  was  a  sneak,  but  he  remembered  the  advice  of  one  of  high  au- 
thority, '  Be  ye  wise  as  serpents.'  Some  gentlemen  were  very 
anxious  to  fight  lions.  Let  them  mount  their  hobbys,  for  his  part  he 
did  not  want  to  fight  a  cat." 

The  occasion  was  one  of  intense  excitement,  the  claims  of 
the  Classis  upon  Christian  sympathy  were  strong — it  would 
have  presented  a  grand  mission  field  for  the  Dutch  Church, — 
but  their  request  was  declined, and  very  much  through  the  wise 
forecast  of  Dr.  Bethuuo.     Many  wlio  opposed  him  sharply 


then  as  a  truckler  to   Northern  fanaticism,  lived  to  thank 
him  for  his  wise  counsels. 

We  next  follow  our  debater  to  the  exciting  Tract  Con- 
troversy, where  he  appears  on  the  other  side  of  the  great 
argument.  The  discussion  really  begun  in  1856,  when  pro- 
posals were  made  at  the  meeting  of  the  American  Tract 
Society,  to  print  essays  on  the  subject  of  slavery,  a  course 
v^hich  would  at  once  stop  the  work  of  the  Society  in  the 
Southern  States  ;  action  was  postponed  by  the  appoint- 
ment of  a  committee  who  should  consider  the  subject  and 
report  next  year. 

In  1857  they  suggested  that  tracts  should  be  printed 
teaching  masters  their  duties,  and  it  was  hoped  that  this 
course  would  satisfj^  all  parties.  But  the  Society  found 
that  even  such  tracts  would  incense  the  South,  and,  for  the 
sake  of  their  national  position,  delayed  the  publication. 
This  inaction  aroused  new  agitation.  Parties  began  to 
array  themselves  in  order ;  appeals  were  sent  to  all  the 
New  England  members  for  their  presence,  which  put  the 
management  of  the  Society  on  the  defensive,  and  they 
rallied  their  strength.  At  the  Anti-Slavery  caucus,  pro- 
ceeding the  meeting,  Mr.  Tappan  said,  "When  my  neigh- 
bor. Dr.  Bethune,  comes  here  to-morrow,  and  I  believe  he 
is  coming,  as  he  is  a  perfect  cornucopia  of  fun  you  will 
have  an  abundance  of  it." 

The  great  assembly  convened  in  the  church  in  Lafayette 
Place,  and,  though  none  but  life-members  and  directors 
were  admitted,  j^et  the  house  was  filled  to  its  utmost 
capacitj^  Probably  never  in  this  country  was  there  such  a 
grand  gathering  of  Christian  men,  absorbed  in  the  question 
whether  this  great  Society  should  be  sustained  or  rent 
asunder,  for  such  seemed  the  issue  at  stake. 

286  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

Dr.  Magee  explained  the  course  of  the  Society.  Bishop 
Mc'Ilvaine,  with  great  dignit}",  defended  its  interests.  Dr. 
Tyng  led  the  opposition,  when  a  vote  was  demanded.  It 
was  taken  amidst  intense  excitement.  Those  condemning 
the  management  being  first  called  for,  three  hundred  and 
forty-five  rose ;  it  seemed  a  large  number,  but  when  the 
other  side  voted,  it  seemed  as  if  the  whole  house  rose  en 
masse.  The  victory  was  complete.  Dr.  Bacon,  of  New 
Haven,  cried,  '*  We  give  it  up,"  Dr.  Bethune  replied, 
''  Yes,  but  we  want  to  know  how  much  you  give  it  up.'^ 
There  was  much  diflSculty  in  the  count,  but  it  was  finally 
agreed  that  it  was  about  ten  to  one.  But  the  opposition 
was  not  vanquished.  Dr.  Bacon  pressed  the  resolution  of 
last  year,  about  tracts  on  slavery,  saying,  "  1  believe  that 
God  governs  the  world ;  and  I  don't  believe,  in  the  long 
run,  the  devil  is  to  beat,"  and  gave  warning  that,  if  defeated 
to-day,  he  would  continue  this  agitation,  and  his  children, 
and .  children's  children,  would  follow  it  up.  When  Dr. 
Bethune  arose  it  was  as  the  mouth-piece  of  the  house.  It 
was  quite  certain  that  the  Society  was  sustained,  the 
great  interest  was  safe  ;  but  the  great  majority  needed  an 
expression  of  their  feeling,  and  for  the  intense  emotion  a 
great  speaker  was  needed.  Dr.  B.  ascended  to  the  majesty 
of  the  occasion.  He  protested  against  the  action  of  last 
year  as  being  unaniomus. 

"  We  are  now  called  upon  to  publish  tracts  on  slavery,  though  we 
thereby  shut  our  tracts  out  of  fifteen  States  of  the  Union  !  But  the 
gentlemen  come  here  to  drive  the  Society  into  decisive  and  destruc- 
tive measures,  and  Dr.  Bacon  tells  us  that  he  will  never  give  it  up; 
he  will  pursue  us,  with  all  the  little  Bacons  after  him,  from  genera- 
tion to  generation.  (Great  laughter.)  Dr.  Bacon  also  expresses 
his  confidence  that  he  and  his  friends  will  get  the  victory  in  the  end, 

DR.  bethune's  speech.  287 

because  he  believes  that  the  devil  will  be  -whipped  at  last !  He 
classes  us  with  the  children  of  the  devil.  But  we  believe  that  we  are 
on  the  side  of  the  truth  and  of  righteousness,  that  the  Bible  is  with 
us,  God  is  with  us,  and  we  intend  to  stand  by  the  Society  to  the 
end.  If  Dr.  Bacon  is  a  life-memher,  so  are  we,  and  whenever  he 
comes  to  agitate  this  subject  he  will  find  us  here.  And  before  this 
Society  shall  pervert  its  sacred  trust  to  the  publication  of  abolition 
tracts,  we  will  carry  the  question  through  every  Court  in  the  land. 
(Great  applause.)  The  gentleman  from  Ncav  Haven,  Dr.  Bacon, 
asks  if  the  moral  law  is  abrogated  by  slavery  ?  if  adultery  is  not 
adultery  at  the  South  ?  I  answer  by  asking  if  adultery  is  any  worse 
south  of  Mason  and  Dixon's  line  than  it  is  north  of  it  ?  Is  sin  any 
worse  in  a  black  man  than  a  white  man  ?  And  as  to  this  particular 
sin,  I  sa;y,  '  let  him  that  is  without  sin,  cast  the  first  stone.'  No  one 
can  doubt  about  the  evangelical  origin  of  that  sentiment.  This 
exhibits  the  difference  between  the  views  of  the  gentlemen  on  the 
other  side  and  ours.  We  wish  to  publish  tracts  against  sin,  all  sin  ; 
to  rebuke  and  oppose  it ;  but  we  see  no  reason  for  treating  covetous- 
ness,  or  licentiousness,  or  oppression,  as  worse  in  one  part  of  the 
country  than  in  another. 

We  are  united  as  a  Society,  not  merely  in  a  charter,  but  in  a 
trust ;  we  have  given  our  money,  our  fathers  have  given  their  money, 
and  we  have  exerted  our  various  talents  for  the  upbuilding  of  this 
institution.  Our  money  is  between  every  brick.  Yes,  it  is  the  very 
mortar  which  holds  the  bricks  together.  It  is  distributed  through  all 
the  stereotype  plates,  in  all  the  presses  of  the  Society.  It  is  in  more 
than  this  ;  it  is  in  the  glorious  system  of  evangelical  operations  which 
this  Society  has  inaugurated,  and  still  maintains.  We  stand  where 
our  fathers  placed  us  ;  and  it  is  my  privilege  to  remember  the  day  on 
which  this  Society  was  begun.  I  remember  it  well ;  and  it  has  been 
dear  to  my  heart  ever  since.  It  is  yet  sacred  in  my  thoughts,  that 
the  life  of  my  grandmother,  Isabella  Graham,  the  greatest  treasure 
which  our  family  ever  had  —  one  of  the  treasures  which  the  church 
of  God  esteems  the  most  precious  —  we  committed  to  this  Tract 
Society ;  we  have  given  money,  my  father  before  me,  all  of  us  have 
given  money ;  but  what  is  money  to  a  gift  like  that  ? 

What  are  we  to  print  but  tracts  for  circulation,  for  the  dissemina- 
tion of  evangelical  religion  and  sound  morals,  that  are  'calculated  to 

288  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

meet  the  approbation  of  all  evangelical  Christians?'  When,  there- 
fore, Christians  who  in  the  judgment  of  charity  can  be  called  evangel- 
ical, say  that  a  tract  must  not  be  printed,  I  hold,  according  to  the 
sacredness  of  the  compact,  according  to  the  fidelity  of  the  trust,  that 
that  tract  ought  not  to  be  printed. 

Sir,  it  is  something  to  get  funds,  it  Is  something  to  have  auxilia- 
ries and  supporters ;  but  I  tell  you  what  is  better  than  funds,  and 
better  than  auxiliaries,  it  is  a  field  where  we  can  work.  Here,  at  the 
thickly  settled  Xorth,  abounding  in  churches,  where  every  man  lives 
within  the  sound  of  the  Gospel,  —  in  the  free  North,  where  are  institu- 
tions cultivating  religion  and  virtue  by  their  various  influences,  —  in 
the  favored  North,  where  we  have  so  many  institutions  of  learning, 
and  so  many  religious  advantages,  this  Tract  Society  is  not  so  much 
needed.  We  have  other  powerful  means  to  enlighten  and  evangelize  ; 
but  we  see  at  the  South  ten  millions  of  immortal  sou^s.  What  shall 
we  do  for  them  ?  We  care  not  whether  they  are  black  or  white  per- 
sons who  have  these  souls.  I  only  know  three  things  :  that  these 
souls  are  immortal ;  that  they  are  sinful ;  and  that  Christ  who  died 
for  me,  died  for  them.  And,  sir,  what  I  want  to  do  through  this 
Society  is,  to  send  the  precious  Gospel  there,  and  I  wish  to  clog  its 
progress  with  no  difficulties." 

He  believed  in  the  certain  emancipation  of  the  slaves  in 
the  United  States,  not  only  from  his  confidence  in  the 
triumph  of  Christianity,  but  from  his  confidence  in  our  polit- 
ical institutions  and  the  predominance  of  fre^  labor.  These 
men  are  to  be  free,  and  he  wanted  to  know  in  what  moral 
condition  they  are  to  be  free  ?  He  wanted  to  prepare  them 
for  that  great  advent  of  freedom.  He  wanted  to  prepare 
them  to  take  their  place  where  they  ought  to  be,  by  the 
side  of  the  white  man. 

"  I  go  for  sending  the  tract  with  the  Gospel,  and  I  go  for  it  for  this 
reason :  because  I  believe  that,  according  to  the  philosophy  of  our 
blessed  religion,  mankind  must  be  changed  from  within  ;  and  that  no 
external  appliances  are  ever  going  to  bring  about  the  reformation  of 

THE    FREEDOM    OF   THE    GOSFEL.  289 

men.  I  do  not  believe  the  doctrine  of  the  infidel  '  Westminster/  that 
morals  must  precede  missions  which  carry  the  Gospel.  The  evangeli- 
cal method  is,  to  send  the  doctrine  of  Jesus  Christ  and  him  crucified, 
first,  that  is,  the  Gospel.  Preach  it  to  black  men,  preach  it  to  white 
men.  This  is  what  we  want.  There  are  slaves  there  suffering  in 
body  and  soul ;  slaves  who  have  none  of  the  comforts  that  we  have 
in  this  world.  Sir,  I  wish  to  make  them  freemen  of  the  Lord.  I 
care  not,  comparatively,  whether  they  be  bond  or  free,  whether  they 
be  Jew  or  Gentile,  whether  they  be  Barbarian  or  Greek ;  if  they  are 
saved  by  faith  in  the  blood  of  Jesus,  this  world  matters  little.  There 
is  heaven,  eternal  heaven,  when  their  brief  sorrows  are  over;  and  it 
is  because  this  Gospel  is  my  comfort,  that  I  want  to  send  it  to  the 
poorest  negro  of  the  South. 

I  recognize  no  difference  between  my  black  brother  and  mvself. 
Born  of  the  same  nature,  drawing  hope  from  the  same  Christ,  lying 
down  alike  in  the  grave,  and  hoping  for  one  home  in  heaven,  he  is  my 
brother.  None  shall  divorce  him  from  me.  I  am  his  keeper;  but 
the  greatest  blessing  God  bids  me  bestow  upon  my  neighbor  is  to  love 
my  neighbor  as  myself,  and  of  all  things  in  this  world  —  liberty, 
riches,  learning,  friends, — I  would  say,  give  me  Christ,  give  me 
Christ.  Take  riches,  honor,  friends,  liberty,  life,  but  give  me  Christ; 
let  me  know  that  my  Redeemer  liveth  ;  let  Christ  be  in  me  the  hope 
of  glory  everlasting.  And  because  I  love  Christ  best  for  myself,  I 
would  give  Christ  to  the  black  man,  and  I  would  send  a  knowledge 
of  Christ  to  the  black  man  in  the  tracts  of  this  Society.  So  do  I  turn 
away  from  every  plan  which  shall  hinder  the  full  and  free  operation 
of  this  Society  over  that  vast  South.  Hinder  us  not,  hinder  us  not. 
The  way  is  gi-eat,  we  have  a  mighty  work  to  do.  Souls,  immortal 
souls,  are  going  down  to  death,  whom  we  are  bound  to  rescue. 
Hinder  us  not.  ^Ye  cannot  forsake  the  South.  I  do  not  mean  the 
institutions  of  the  South.  I  mean  the  slaves  of  the  South,  the  masters 
of  the  South,  all  the  sinners  of  the  South.  God,  Jehovah,  in  whom 
we  trust,  has  put  the  obligation  upon  our  consciences.  We  cannot 
turn  aside.  *  God  is  our  refuge,  and  our  strength  ;  therefore  will  we 
not  fear,  though  the  earth  be  removed,  though  the  mountains  thereof 
be  carried  into  the  midst  of  the  sea.' " 

His  position  on  the  slavery   question  is  thus  clearly  de- 

290  IVIEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

fined :  opposed  to  it  with  all  his  heart,  holding  that 
slavery  was  a  "crime/'  desirous  to  avoid  all  connection  with 
it,  yet  he  would  select  the  most  prudent  course  to  alleviate 
its  sorrows  and  prepare  the  way  for  freedom. 

We  insert  here,  as  bearing  directly  upon  this  point,  a  let- 
ter to  Mr.  John  Brydon,  Edinburgh,  dated  Newburgh-on- 
the-Hudson,  July,  1853.  The  opinions  entertained  were  of 
course  modified,  though  not  changed,  by  the  political  events 
of  seven  years  later. 

"  My  Dear  Sir  : — I  cannot  retract  what  I  said  of  Mrs.  Stowe,  and 
as  I  am  little  accustomed  to  mould  my  opinions,  except  from  my  own 
convictions,  you  must  believe,  though  I  may  lose  somewhat  of  your 
favor,  that  they  are  from  my  own  mind  and  not  from  without.  Of  the 
system  of  slavery,  I  think  as  badly  as  you  can.  Nothing  would  tempt 
me  to  share  in  its  common  evi4 ;  but  I  cannot  approve  of  the  gross 
misrepresentations  of  Mrs.  Stowe's  book,  which  show  the  clergy  of 
this  country  in  the  worst  possible  light,  and  studiously  avoid  allusions 
to  the  many  palliating  circumstances  which  a  Christian  charity  should 
duly  consider.  My  observation  of  the  South  has  been  large.  I  have 
personally  labored  among  the  slaves  as  a  preacher,  and  been  an  eye- 
witness of  sacrifices  and  pains  on  the  part  of  good  people  for  those 
who,  not  by  choice  of  theirs,  had  been  put  under  them. 

The  evidence  in  Mrs.  Stowe's  second  book  is  very  shocking ;  but  if 
a  like  attempt  were  made  by  a  Socialist  to  exhibit  the  evils  of  mar- 
rlao'e  or  even  of  parental  authority  or  of  the  relations  of  landlord  and 
tenant,  &c.,  &c.,  a  far  worse  show  could  be  made.  More  wives  are 
killed  by  their  husbands,  than  slaves  by  their  masters,  a  hundred 
times.  The  evil  is  here,  and  the  question  is  how  to  get  rid  of  it,  and 
on  that  but  httle  light  has  yet  been  thrown  from  any  quarter.  The 
Americans  were  not  alone  In  finding  difficulty  resulting  from  disorders 
in  society  from  a  long  growth  of  wrong.  When  England  has  cleared 
her  skirts  of  evils  within  her  own  limits,  It  will  be  time  enough  for  her 
to  dictate  to  us. 

But  my  quarrel  with  Mrs.  Stowe  Is  not  for  having  written  her 
book,  mahgnant  as  some  parts  of  it  are.     It  is  for  consenting  to  be 


f(&ted  by  your  people  in  reward  for  her  book.  We  are  not  deceived, 
nor  ought  she  to  be,  as  to  the  cause  of  such  honor  being  awarded  her 
among  you.  The  proof  is  too  plain  that  it  is  a  jealous  hate  of  Ameri- 
ca, not  a  love  of  human  happiness ;  a  hate  which  grows  without  any 
occasion,  but  our  increasing  commercial  and  moral  rivalry.  At  the 
very  moment  that  Mrs.  Stowe  was  received  with  acclamations,  the 
British  armies  were  carrying  blood-shed  and  rapine  into  the  Burman 
empire,  and  all  British  India  is  but  a  bloody  monument  of  British  ra- 
pacity, cruelty,  and  selfishness — yet  what  voice  of  mercy  is  heard  from 
your  pseudo-philanthropists  on  that  subject  ?  Slavery,  far  worse  than 
our  country  knows,  prevails  in  Russia,  your  monarchical  ally,  yet 
•what  voice  has  been  heard  in  Britain  against  that?  Does  the  fact 
that  our  slaves  are  black  and  the  Russians  white  make  the  differ- 
ence ?  No,  my  friend,  your  anti-slavery  feeling  against  America  is 
but  the  form  of  British  hate,  Britain's  pet  Pharisaism — which,  while 
it  declaims  against  the  views  of  others,  tolerates  the  most  monstrous 
evils  at  home  and  abroad.  If  anything  could  make  the  unholy  farce 
more  transparent,  it  is  the  fact  that  the  Duchess  of  Sutherland  heads 
the  movement.  Sutherland  is  a  name  which  her  Grace's  mother  and 
father  made  infamous  for  the  most  horrid  cruelties  in  driving  their 
Highland  clansmen  from  their  homes  of  centuries  in  circumstances  un- 
rivalled for  cruelty,  except  it  be  by  more  recent  evictions  in  Ireland. 
The  United  States  have  freely  given  homes  to  the  fugitive  slaves  who 
were  driven  out  of  Great  Britain  by  tyrannies,  such  as  no  Southern 
planter  ever  dreamed  of.  Mrs.  Stowe  knows  the  reason  of  her 
British  popularity,  and  I  call  it  the  conduct  of  a  traitor  to  receive 
personal  favors  at  the  expense  of  one's  country.  As  to  your  emanci- 
pation of  the  West  India  slaves  (a  pretty  mess  you  have  made  of  it) 
the  parallel  holds  not  good,  as  the  owners  of  these  slaves  did  not 
emancipate  them,  but  were  forced  by  a  foreign  parliament  against  all 
the  votes  which  indirectly  represented  them  to  the  measure.  Our 
Northern  States  had  long  before, — New  York  in  1818 — set  their 
slaves  free,  and  now  the  power  to  free  those  at  the  South  lies  in 
Southern  hands,  not  ours.  The  people  who  voted  the  West  India 
slaves  free  were  3000  miles  away  from  any  evils  or  dangers  conse- 
quent upon  the  step  ;  the  more  than  three  millions  of  blacks  are  with- 
in our  own  borders.  The  British  West  India  slavery  was  so  cruel 
that  the  number  of  the  slaves  decreased ;  in  our  Southern  States  they 

292         MEMOIR  OF  gp:o.  w.  bethune,  d.  d. 

increase  faster  than  any  population  in  the  world,  a  clear  sign  that 
physically  at  least  they  are  not  ill  treated.  Do  you  know,  also,  that 
the  number  of  slaves  voluntarily  and  without  compensation  set  free  in 
this  country,  considerably  exceeds  all  that  Great  Britain  has  emanci- 
pated? These  are  the  reasons  why  Mrs.  Stowe,  as  an  American 
woman,  should  have  declined  honors  at  the  cost  of  her  country's  hon- 
or. I  speak  from  my  own  heart.  When  I  first  went  to  Great  Britain 
in  1836,  I  found  myself  assailed  at  every  dinner-table  in  England  and 
Scotland,  from  that  of  the  peer  downwards,  with  attacks  on  my  coun- 
try. I  withdrew  myself  from  all  society,  but  those  of  my  personal 
friends.  I  bore  letters  to  some  of  the  most  eminent  men  of  Glasgow, 
Drs.  Wardlaw,  Hugh,  and  others,  but  I  presented  none  of  them,  for 
they  had  united  in  a  meeting  of  pharisaical  hate  of  America.  When 
I  have  been  in  Great  Britain,  twice  since,  I  have  travelled  as  an  un- 
known stranger,  rather  than  break  bread  under  roofs  where  my 
country  was  abused.  This,  depend  upon  it,  is  the  feeling  of  the  more 
thoughtful  among  Americans  visiting  Great  Britain ;  Mrs.  Stowe  is  a 
notorious  exception.  Fervently  do  I  long  and  pray  and  labor  for  the 
emancipation  of  the  slaves.  I  hate  the  system  which  oppresses  them, 
and  every  system  of  oppression.  But  I  cannot  condemn  my  fellow 
sinner  at  the  South  for  being  placed  in  temptations  I  know  nothing 
of,  nor  can  I  shut  my  eyes  to  any  evil  but  one.  When  the  beam  is 
out  of  the  eye  of  Great  Britain,  she  may  well  see  clearer.  The  times 
threaten  a  period  not  far  off  when  Great  Britain  and  the  United 
States  should  stand  shoulder  to  shoulder  for  the  liberties  of  the  world. 
The  once  harsh  mother  will  need  the  arm  of  her  sturdy  child.  All 
that  can  tend  to  bind  us  together  should  be  carefully  cherished,  and 
we  were  tending  to  this  when  the  devil  assumed  the  form  of  charity 
and  stirred  up  Uncle  Tom's  Cabin  to  distract  and  embitter. 

Yours  affectionately, 

Geo.  W.  Bethune." 

Desire  to  present  Dr.  Bethune's  relation  to  this  subject  in 
connection  has  carried  us,  in  time,  beyond  another  of  the 
grand  occasions  in  his  life  ;  the  meeting  of  sympathy  with 
the  Madiai,  where  he  represented  "  the  martyrs  of  Holland 
and  the  inflexible  opponents  of  papal  intolerance."     A  gew- 


tleman  who  has  had  large  privileges  of  hearing  distinguished 
men  at  home  and  abroad,  has  told  us  that  he  never  listened 
to  so  fine  a  specimen  of  forensic  eloquence. 

"  At  Florence,  Italy,  several  members  of  the  Madiai  family- 
had  been  imprisoned  at  hard  labor  for  the  single  crime  of 
possessing  a  Bible  ;  and  they  were  sentenced  to  sufier  for 
several  years  ;  this  fact,  published  abroad,  had  excited  the 
rebuke  of  the  civilized  world.  Immense  meetings  had  been 
held  in  London,  Edinburgh  and  Dublin,  to  denounce  the  bar- 
barism, and  it  was  arranged  that  on  the  7th  January,  1853, 
the  city  of  New  York  should  utter  its  voice.  Metropolitan 
Hall  was  engaged,  the  largest  in  the  country  and  capable 
of  holding  about  6000  persons  ;  it  was  an  assembly  of  the 
wit,  beauty  and  religion  of  the  city  gathered  together  to 
hear  their  favorite  orators,  and  to  express  Christian  sympa- 
thy with  the  persecuted.  Mr.  Westervelt,  the  mayor  of  the 
city,  presided,  and  addresses  were  made  by  representative 
men  of  different  denominations  ;  but  Dr.  Bethune  rose  head 
and  shoulders  above  them  all.  Never  shall  I  forget  the 
sensation  as  his  clear,  bell-like  voice  rang  upon  my  ears. 
He  came  from  the  back  part  of  the  stage  speaking  as  he  ad- 
vanced, his  great  body  seeming  to  grow  larger  with  emotion 
at  every  step  he  took. 

'  I  feel  as  if  I  were  called  again  into  the  presence  of  centuries  long 
past.  I  seem  to  hear  those  sublime  words  ringing  in  my  ears :  I 
believe  in  the  Holy  Ghost,  and  in  the  holy  Catholic  church,  and  in 
the  communion  of  Saints.  There  is  hut  one  head  and  one  body ;  and 
wherever  there  is  one  who  believes  in  Jesus  Christ,  there  is  a  member 
of  that  Church ;  and  if  one  member  suffers,  all  the  members  suffer 
with  it.  If  we  have  the  Holy  Ghost  within  us,  if  we  have  become 
vitally  united  to  the  body  of  our  blessed  Lord  by  a  living  faith,  there 
is  not  one  of  us  whose  heart  is  not  bleeding  with  those  beloved  Chris- 
tians who  are  now  crushed  beneath  the  foot  of  the  oppressor ;  and  we 

294  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

must,  before  God,  who  gave  us  hearts  and  faith,  speak  out.  I  am 
sure  we  must  all  feel  it,  and  our  sympathies  must  find  relief ;  and  if  it 
reach  no  further  than  to  give  us  relief  from  this  pent-up  emotion,  this 
meeting  is  a  blessing  to  the  freemen  and  inhabitants  of  New  York. 

I  said  I  felt  as  if  I  were  called  into  centuries  long  past  away.  We 
read  of  the  sufferings  of  the  primitive  Christians ;  we  read  of  them 
who  were  stoned  and  sawn  asunder,  who  sang  amidst  the  smoke  of 
their  fires,  who  perished  in  dungeons  with  the  long  pain  of  fatal  hun- 
ger ;  and,  until  a  very  short  time  ago,  we  had  felt,  as  Christians,  that 
those  days  had  past.  There  were  some  prophecies  that,  interpreted  in 
a  particular  light,  seemed  to  tell  that  the  days  of  that  persecution 
might  return ;  but  we  had  long  been  in  the  habit  of  feeling  that  those 
days  had  gone. 

It  is  not  long  since  we  had  the  privilege  of  welcoming  the  stranger 
among  us,  and  it  was  a  higher  privilege  to  welcome  the  exiles  from 
the  island  of  Madeira.  Then,  for  the  first  time,  we  were  permitted 
to  see  tlie  Confessors  such  as  are  now  canonized  by  that  same 
Church  of  Rome.  And  now  we  are  told,  that  two  obscure  individuals, 
in  the  midst  of  that  Church,  are  incarcerated  and  treated  as  felons,  for 
no  crime  but  reading  the  Bible.  From  my  heart  I  sympathize  with 
that  brother  and  sister  in  Christ ;  but  much  remains  yet  behind  to  be 
filled  up  of  the  sufferings  of  Christ.  There  remains  yet  a  necessity  for 
the  sufferings  of  the  people  of  God  to  prove,  in  the  first  place,  the  evil 
of  that  spirit  which  exalts  itself  against  the  Scriptures ;  and  in  the 
second  place,  to  prove  the  divinity  of  that  faith  which  upholds  the 
soul  above  torture,  and  imprisonment,  and  death. 

This  proves  that  the  spirit  of  that  power  is  unchanged.  It  is  impos- 
sible for  an  American,  brought  up  from  his  childhood  amidst  the  light, 
and  liberty  and  privileges  which  we  enjoy  in  this  land,  it  is  impossible 
for  him  to  conceive  the  tyranny  and  oppression  which  exist  in  the  Old 
World ;  and  when  we  tell  him  of  it,  he  tells  us  that  we  are  calumniating 
our  brethren  and  that  it  is  not  riglit  to  bring  such  charges  against 
men,  because  their  ancestors  in  past  centuries  have  been  guilty  of 
crimes,  and  that  the  growing  light  of  science  and  the  interchange  of 
philanthropic  feeling  have  wrought  a  great  revolution  in  the  spirit  of 
that  church  which  was  formerly  recognized  as  a  church  of  persecution. 
Here  is  a  fact  rising  up  before  us,  which  tells  us  that  the  spirit  which 
persecuted  the  Albigenses  is  still  there,  not  dead,  but  rampant  and 


ready,  so  far  as  it  has  the  power,  to  crush  now,  as  it  was  ready  to 
crush  five  hundred  years  ago.  Am  I  wrong  in  this  ?  I  see  a  brother 
here  upon  the  stage  who  told  me  once  in  preaching  preparatory  to  the 
Sacrament,  he  took  occasion  to  explain  the  fallacy  of  the  doctrine  of 
transubstantiation  held  by  the  Catholic  Church,  and  that  one  of  his 
parishioners  complained  of  his  slandering  the  Catholics  ;  for  we  all 
know,  said  the  man,  that  nobody  can  believe  such  nonsense.  This 
was  the  light  he  took  of  it,  and  precisely  in  the  same  manner  do  wo 
find  people  believing  it  impossible  that  the  spirit  of  persecution  can 
still  exist  as  it  existed  in  former  years.  The  spirit  of  antichrist  is  the 
same  at  all  times.  The  spirit  of  Christ  says  Search  the  Scriptures ; 
and  wherever  there  comes  a  spirit  which  forbids  you  to  search  the 
Scriptures,  you  may  depend  upon  it  that  there  is  the  spirit  of  anti- 
christ, because  it  is  opposed  to  it.  (Applause.)  And  now  we  know 
that  his  oppression  exists,  does  it  not  become  us  to  aid  the  oppressed? 
Are  we  not  a  republic  ?  and  are  we  not  the  only  nation  on  the  face  of 
the  earth,  except  it  be  the  little  republic  on  the  shores  of  Liberia,  in 
which  religious  liberty  is  entire  ?  (Applause).  Since  we  in  this  coun- 
try, as  republicans,  are  bearing  our  testimony  to  the  value  of  republi- 
can principles  in  the  face  of  the  whole  earth,  should  we  not  believe 
that  it  is  part  of  our  mission  not  only  to  enjoy  what  God  has  sent  us, 
but  to  diffuse  it  to  others  ?  This  is  the  only  country  in  which  the  prin- 
ciple of  religious  liberty  has  been  permitted  to  work  itself  out ;  and  as 
all  our  churches  have  flourished  and  grown  strong,  and  been  a  bles- 
sing to  us  under  the  system,  I  say  it  is  our  duty,  not  as  Protestants 
only,  but  as  freemen,  to  lift  up  our  voice  against  religious  oppression 
wherever  it  may  exist.     (Loud  applause.) 

Now  I  wish  to  speak  a  few  words  in  relation  to  the  Romish  Church. 
What  is  the  meaning  of  the  words  Protestant  Country,  as  applied 
to  the  United  States?  I  read  as  follows  :"  I  suppose  that  at  last  it 
will  come  down  to  signify  nothing  more  than  the  majority  of  the  inhab- 
itants are  Protestants  ;  but  has  it  never  occurred  to  those  who  would 
make  such  an  objection,  that  majorities  and  minorities  are  mere  acci- 
dents, liable  to  change  I  whereas  the  constitution  is  a  principle  and 
not  an  accident;  its  great,"  and  mark  you  this,  "its  great  and  unap- 
preciable  value  is  that  it  prescribes  the  duties  of  the  majority,  and 
protects  with  equal  and  impartial  justice  the  rights  of  the  minority. 
In  this  country  the  Constitution  of  the  United  States  says  the  majority 
shall  rule." 

296  3[e:![0ir  ct  geo.  v^.  betiiu^'e,  d.  d. 

God  errant  it  I  '•  Xo^  in  pursnanee  of  the  constitution,  this  is 
neither  a  Protestant  nor  a  Catholic  eonntn',  bnt  a  broad  land  of  civil 
and  religions  freedom  and  eqnalitv  secured  to  all.'*  This  is  the  eulogi- 
nm  pronounced  upon  the  Constitution  of  the  United  States  by  Arch- 
bishop Hnsrhes.  Xow,  I  have  not  the  honor  of  knowing  that  gentle- 
man personally,  but  vre  are  sufficiently  well  known  to  the  public  to 
warrant  my  not  waiting  for  an  introduction,  and  I  call  upon  him,  in 
the  name  of  the  liberties  which  his  church  has  enjoyed  —  in  the  name 
of  that  freedom  whidb  eTerr  Protestant  in  this  house,  that  is  worthy 
the  name  of  Protestant,  is  willing  to  accord  to  erery  Roman  Catho- 
lic in  the  land  —  I  call  upon  him  in  gratitude  to  the  Ealtimores  and 
Williamses,  and  those  whose  spirits  made  that  Constitution  of  ours 
free  from  erery  stain  of  religious  restraint  —  I  call  upon  him  to  join 
us  in  calling  upon  lie  Duke  of  Tuscany  to  set  free  these  people.  (Tre- 
mendous applause.)  If  this  oppression  be  not  the  work  of  Roman 
Catholicism,  he  cannot,  he  will  not,  refuse  to  join  in  the  extension  of 
that  principle  over  which  he  rejoices,  (cheers.)  If  he  does  not  join 
us  we  shall  beliere  that  such  oppression  is  part  and  parcel  of  Roman 
Catholicism,  and  that  if  they  had  the  power  here,  they  would  act  like 
the  Duke  of  Tuscany.  This  is  the  point  to  which  we  come.  We 
hare  stronger  sympathies  in  one  caase  than  another,  and  it  is  possible 
that  I  may  hare  them :  but  I  rerily  beliere,  if  I  know  my  own  heart,  that 
if  this  were  a  case  of  religious  oppression  of  a  Jew  or  Turk,  much  more 
the  oppression  of  a  Roman  Catholic,  who  yet  I  hold  to  be  a  fellow- 
Christian  —  I  may  say  my  indignation  would  be  as  strong  as  it  is  now ; 
and  I  would  lift  up  my  feeble  voice  in  advocacy  of  the  great  princi- 
ple, that,  let  man  be  Jew,  Turk,Papi5t,  or  Protestant,  let  him  alone. 
(Loud  applause)  Let  him  talk  with  his  God,  and  let  hi;  God  talk  with 
him :  and  therefore  it  is  not  as  a  Protestant,  but  as  a  Christian  citizen 
of  a  free  land  that  I  am  glad  to  see  my  Catholic  fellow-citizens  as  free 
as  myself — therefore  it  is  that  I  desire  to  protest  against  this  oppres- 
sion, and  I  call  upon  my  Catholic  brethren  to  join  me  in  the  protest. 
(Applause.)  It  will  not  come :    depend  upon  it,  it  will  not. 

Every  one  who  knows  anything  about  Italy  for  years  since,  is  aware 
that  this  very  Dake  of  Tasemy  was  so  kind-  so  clement,  and  r.o  leni- 
ent a  prince,  that  he  may  be  said  to  have  been  the  best  beloved  of  all  Eu- 
ropean sovereigns,  unless  it  may  be  perhaps  the  Emperor  of  Russia, 
who  is  regarded  with  a  sort  of  a  religions  affection ;  and  I  will  tell  you 

KOME    A^D   EOMAXISM.  207 

raore,  that  if  that  conspiracy  which  broke  out  some  rears  ago  to  con- 
solidate Italy  into  one  kingdom  had  been  successful,  the  leaders 
would  have  placed  him  at  the  head  of  the  kingdom.  And  why  ?  Be- 
cause of  his  liberal  sentiments  and  kind  heart  they  Tnshed  to  put  him 
on  the  throne.  I  have  seen,  sir.  this  old  man  walking,  with  his  hands 
behind  liis  back,  superintending  the  improvements  of  Leghorn  and 
other  parts  of  his  dominions,  patting  the  little  children  on  the  head, 
talking  to  the  working  people,  and  nodding  familiarly  to  the  market- 
women,  the  ver}-  picture  of  a  good  king.  Has  this  man  changed  ? 
Yes.  At  that  very  time,  the  minions  of  the  Pope  endeavoured  to  use 
him  in  oppressing  the  people  :  but  he  put  them  one  side,  and  set  his 
face  against  religious  tyranny.  But  he  has  now  grown  old,  his  brain 
has  become  weak,  his  heart  fearful,  and  he  has  changed.  It  is  not  the 
Grand  Duke  of  Tuscany  now,  it  is  the  priest.  Am  I  wrong  in  charg- 
ing this  upon  the  priesthood  ?  The  Pope  is  a  priest,  and  the  Pope  is 
supreme  at  Rome.  Let  the  Pope  decree  religious  liberty;  let  the 
Pope  wash  his  h.ands  of  religious  oppression,  let  religion  be  free  in 
Rome,  and  then  I  shall  believe  that  religious  oppression  is  not  the  act 
of  the  priest,  but  of  the  government. 

But  this  very  night  there  is  within  the  city  of  Rome,  a  narrow 
street,  with  a  gate  at  each  end,  into  which  is  crammed  everv  night 
from  seven  to  eight  hundred  human  beings.  Drive  through  that  street 
in  the  daytime,  and  you  need  perfume  to  keep  you  from  fainting,  such  is 
the  consequence  of  this  dense  population.  "Who  are  these  people? 
They  are  almost  under  the  shadow  of  the  Vatican.  And  this  most 
Christian  sovereign  of  the  most  Christian  Church,  has  the  power  to  set 
them  free  ;  but  he  closes  the  gates  on  them  at  eight  o'clock  every  even- 
ing in  the  winter,  .and  nine  o'clock  in  the  summer,  anil  opens  them 
in  the  morning  at  a  corresponding  hour.  Why  is  this  ?  Because  they 
are  Jews,  and  the  Roman  Catholic  religion  tolerates  no  religion  but 
its  own.  If  we  are  guilty  of  slander  —  if  it  seems  like  calumny  to 
charge  oppression  upon  those  who  prafess  in  some  respects  the  same 
faith  as  ourselves,  let  them  wash  their  hands  of  these  things.  The 
Pope  ought  to  be  the  champion  of  religious  freedom.  lie  should  set  the 
example  to  the  world  by  allowing  truth  to  come  into  contact  with  error. 

If  there  be  a  city,  next  to  Jerusalem  itself,  filled  with  consecrated 
recollections,  it  is  Rome — Rome,  whose  grounds  are  honey-combed 
with  the  tombs  of  early  martyrs.     A  little  while  since,  when  there 

298  MEMOm    OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUXE,    D.  D. 

■was  danger,  what  did  you  see  ?  A  sovereign  prince,  the  representa- 
tive of  the  Apostle  —  puts  on  a  livery  and  gets  behind  a  travelling- 
carriage  and  flies  like  a  lackey  !  The  coward  fled!  And  he  whose 
voice  of  authority  had  roared  like  a  bull  from  the  Vatican,  roared 
from  the  palace  of  Casta,  like  a  petted  calf ! 

Are  you  here  to  sympathize  with  a  gentleman,  a  nobleman  ?  This 
man,  who  is  imprisoned,  is  what  is  called  a  lackey,  a  hired  servant. 
This  man,  when  called  to  give  up  his  Bible,  did  he  fly  ?  fly  like  a 
Pope  ?  No  ;  superstition  has  made  a  Pope  a  coward,  while  the  Bible 
has  raised  a  lackey  to  the  dignity  of  a  nobleman.'' 

He  now  called  upon  the  priests  to  join  in  maintaining 
civil  liberty.  But  he  believed  if  they  controlled  the  muni- 
cipal authorities  of  this  city  as  they  do  the  Duke  or  Tus- 
cany, his  head  to-morrov7  morning  would  not  be  worth  a 
sixpence.  '  And  yet,  said  he,'  I  here  declare  before  God,  that 
I  hope  I  have  the  spirit  of  my  country's  history,  and  have 
drunk  deeply  enough  of  the  spirit  of  religious  liberty,  to  lay 
my  head  upon  a  block  and  have  it  chopped  off,  before  a  sin- 
gle hair  of  the  head  of  the  most  bigoted  Papist  in  this  land 
should  suffer  the  least  harm  by  religious  persecution.' 
(Tumultuous  applause,  and  the  speaker  took  his  seat.) 
While  he  attacked  the  system,  he  cherished  no  undue  pre- 
judices against  the  people.  When  at  a  public  meeting 
Gavazzi  one  night  attacked  Chief  Justice  Taney  as  a  Ro- 
manist, the  writer  remembers  that  Dr.  Bethune  abruptly 
left  the  stage,  saying,  '  He  is  a  most  pure  man.  Gavazzi 
knows  nothing  about  us.'  " 

The  following  extract  from  his  speech  before  the  Sea- 
men's Friend  Society,  affords  yet  another  evidence  of  his 
powers  as  an  orator: 

"  Suppose,"  said  he,  "that  every  ship  that  sails  from  this  port,  every 
ship  especially  that  stretches  her  course  into  those  quarters  of  the  world 
where  '  the  darkness  of  the  shadow  of  death,'  is  still  on  the  nations, 
were  manned  by  Christian  seamen,  commanded  by  pious  officers,  and 
were  followed  by  the  prayers  of  pious  merchants,  as  eager  that  those 

seamen's  friend  society.  299 

ships  should  be  made  tributary  to  the  glory  of  God,  that  those  men 
should  be  made  instrumental  in  carrying  light  among  the  destitute,  as 
that  they  should  bring  home  the  profits  of  commercial  enterprise,  what 
would  be  the  consequence  ?  How  scon  would  this  earth  be  blessed  with 
the  knowledge  of  the  Lord,  and  all  nations  rejoice  in  the  blessing  of 
that  light  which  shines  over  us  !  This  is  what  the  Christian  world  must 
come  to.  Our  religion  does  not  inculcate  piety  merely  for  one  day  in 
the  week,  to  take  one  dollar  out  of  a  thousand  and  put  it  into  the  treas- 
ury of  the  Lord.  It  should  be  like  leaven  that  Icaveneth  the  whole 
lump,  pervading  our  whole  life,  and  making  our  daily  occupation  sacred 
to  God.  Consecrating  every  instrumentality  of  our  worldly  comfort  and 
prosperity,  by  making  it  subservient  to  the  great  cause  of  salvation 
throughout  the  whole  world. 

And  where,  if  this  doctrine  be  true,  is  this  instrumentality  so  full  of 
promise,  or  so  certain,  under  Divine  blessing,  of  success,  as  in  the  op- 
portunities offered  by  the   Seamen's  Friend  Society?     He  did  not  pro- 
pose to  enter  into  all  the  romance  thrown  around  the  seaman's  character. 
A  great  many  reckless  and  jovial  characteristics  he  possessed  on  land. 
They  afforded  opportunities  for  a  display  of  rhetoric,  but  practically,  the 
sailor  was  like  other  men,  born  with  the   same  naked  depravities,  ex- 
posed to  the  same  temptations,  and  needing  precisely  the  same  grace 
of  God  that  converted  Paul,  Mary  Magdalene,  or  any  sinner  on  the 
face  of  the  earth.     It  was  no  more  difficult  for  that  grace  to  convert  the 
sailor  than  the  landsman.     Either,  according  to  his  faith,  was  miracu- 
lous ;  a  work  great  as  creation.    But  when  we  believe  it  is   the  power 
of  God,  we  believe  that  that  power  is  promised  to  earnest  faith ;  and 
the  word  which  says,  '  That  which  we  sow,  we  shall  also  reap,'  is  the  only 
encouragement  which  leads  us  on  in  this  great  work  of  attempting  to 
evangelize  the  men  of  the  sea.     But  the  sailor  has  claims  on  us,  not  from 
his  peculiar  generosity  or  characteristics,  which  make  it  better  or  worse. 
The  soul  of  one  man,  all  other  things  being  equal,  is  worth  as  much 
as  another  ;  but,  when  converted,  it  may  be  worth  more  than  another, 
in  the  influence  which  it  may  bring  to  bear  on  the  world.     If  the  sailor 
is  going  to  distant  lands,  to  a  nation  resembling  our  own  at  onetime,  to 
the  shores  cursed  by  the  superstitions  of  Rome  at  another;  on  one  voy? 
age  to  a  part  darkened  by  the  faith  of  the  False  Prophet,  or  upon  an- 
other, to  one  Avliere  dcmonism  slirouds  its  people  in  the  absurdities  of  a 
cruel  feticism  :  the  conversion  of  this  wanderer  of  the  seas,  who  comes 

300  MEMOIli    OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.   D. 

as  near  ubiquity  as  any  man  can,  is  worth,  in  tliis  light,  more  than  i.iG 
conversion  of  ten  ordinary  men  that  stay  at  Lome,  ev-ery  night  sleeping 
in  the  same  bed,  and  every  Sabbath  worshipping  in  the  same  church. 
God,  in  his  providence  made  great  use  of  common  men,  but  the  conver- 
sion of  these  was  not  equal,  in  its  influence,  in  the  v\'orld  at  large,  to  the 
conversion  of  one  intelligent  sailor  who  travels  over  the  earth. 

Again,  the  sailor  claims  especial  care,  not  because  of  Ms  aptness  or 
unaptness  to  receive  instruction.  God,  by  his  Spirit,  makes  that  soil  the 
least  promising,  the  most  fruitful.  But  God  works  by  means.  We  have 
Christian  churches  everwhere  ;  but  it  is  not  so  for  the  sailor.  He  is  a 
few  days  in  port,  and  many  days  at  sea ;  one  Sabbath  within  reach  of  the 
Gospel,  and  three,  four,  five,  perhaps  a  year  or  two,  where  no  Sabbath 
bell  is  heard,  no  gospel  preached,  and  no  Christian  influence  brought  to 
bear;  and  because  the  sailor  has  not  a  Sabbath  in  ten  tliat  we  have, 
should  we  work  ten  times  as  hard  to  do  the  sailor  good  on  that  Sabbath, 
as  we  do  to  serve  ordinary  men  any  common  Sabbath  of  the  year. 

We  want  to  intensify  our  labor  for  the  sailor,  because  when  we  catch 
him,  it  is  only  for  a  little  time  ;  while  the  minister  can  preach  to  the  ordi- 
nary people,  if  tliey  will  keep  awake  to  hear  him,  every  Sunday  in  the 
year.  This  society  provides  for  the  sailor  at  home,  every  accommoda- 
tion ;  and,  not  content  to  bless  him  at  home,  it  follows  him  abroad ; 
and  it  was  the  great  purpose  of  the  charity,  next  to  giving  the  sailor  an 
opportunity  of  instruction  here,  to  send  the  gospel  to  meet  him  every- 
where he  goes.  Funds  alone  were  needed  to  carry  out  fully  this  ob- 
ject; for  wherever  there  is  a  port  which  gathers  together  a  sufficient 
number  of  American  ships  to  make  a  congregation,  there  were  they 
ready  to  offer  the  gospel,  with  all  tlie  instrumentalities  tliat  surround  it, 
as  an  appointed  means  of  blessing  to  the  world. 

No  harbor  in  which  ships  bearing  the  American  flag  are  crowded, 
should  be  without  a  due  provision  for  the  dissemination  of  religious 
truth.  Think  of  the  example  our  country  recently  set  to  the  world, 
perhaps  too  long  delayed,  but  not  the  less  glorious  since  manifested. 
A  man,  not  a  native  of  this  country,  a  fugitive  from  the  land  of  his 
birth,  where  his  struggles  in  the  cause  of  freedom,  giving  them  the  best 
interpretation,  compromised  his  safety,  —  passing,  as  it  were,  only 
under  the  shadow  of  the  American  flag,  that  shadow  consecrates  him  as 
under  the  protection  of  a  mighty  nation  ;  and  there,  one  who  wears  the 

MEETING    IN    HONOR    OF   COOPER.  301 

uniform  of  this  country,  declares,  in  the  face  of  a  triple  force,  tliat  he 
is  safe  ;  that  he  must  be  delivered  up  into  the  hands  of  those  represent- 
ing the  dignity  of  that  country,  whose  protection  he  claimed.  And  what 
has  been  the  result? 

The  dignity  of  our  country  has  been  elevated  in  the  estimation  of 
the  world.  The  name  of  the  gallant  Captain  Ingraham  cannot  be  ut- 
tered without  calling  forth  the  acclamations  of  his  countrymen.  (Ap- 

But,  while  doing  him  honor,  he  (Rev.  Dr.  Bethune)  was  not  the  less 
certain  that  there  was  not  an  officer  in  our  American  navy  that  was  not 
prepared  to  do  the  same  for  an  American,  wherever  found.  Now,  they 
wanted  the  church  to  be  as  faithful  to  the  sailor,  as  the  country  is  to  her 
citizen ;  that  the  sailor,  wherever  he  goes,  niiglit  know  that  there  is  a 
friend  armed  with  the  panoply  of  the  gospel,  to  shield  him  from  the  dan- 
gers, worse,  a  thousand-fold,  than  a  foreign  dungeon,  chains,  or  tem- 
poral death  ;  a  friend  that  could  lash  his  soul  safe,  as  it  were,  to  the 
cross  that  should  float  him  safely  over  the  waters  to  Heaven. 

Wherever  we  have  a  commerce,  wherever  the  American  flag  is  un- 
furled, there  is  truth,  defence,  and  a  nation  pledged  for  the  safety  of  its 
citizens,  who  had  the  right  to  worship  God  as  conscience  should  dictate. 
And  every  administration  that  should  not  get  the  privilege  for  them, 
should  be  turned  out  one  after  another.  But  what  we  ask,  is  more  than 
the  right  to  worthip  God  as  we  desire  ;  the  opportunity,  the  churchy  the 
preacher,  the  communion  vessels,  the  Bible,  the  hymn  book,  all  the  as- 
sociations of  Christianity,  all  consolations  v/hen  away  from  our  dear 
America,  wherever  we  go,  under  the  combined  flags  of  the  Bethel,  and 
of  the  American  nation." 

At  the  memorial  service  of  J.  Fenniraore  Cooper,  held  at 
City  Hall,  New  York,  Sept.  25th,  1851,  W.  Irving  in  the 
chair,  Dr.  Bethune  said  : 

"  The  eloquent  gentleman,  who  has  just  addressed  you,  said  that  we 
had  met  to  celebrate  the  obsequies  '  of  him  who  has  been  in  all  our 
thoughts.'  Pardon  me  for  dissenting  from  the  expression.  "We  have 
met  to  congratulate  his  spirit  on  its  immortality.  We  are  not  permitted 
to  look  within  the  mysterious  veil  which  divides  time  from  eternity,  or 

302  MEMOIU   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

follow  him  before  the  presence  of  God ;  but  we  know  that  he  died  in 
firm  faith  upon  the  Son  of  God,  our  lledeemer,  the  only  '  way,  and 
truth,  and  life,'  by  whom  we  can  '  come  unto  the  Father.'  In  those  al- 
mighty, just,  and  merciful  hands,  we  can  leave  him;  but  while  we  mourn 
the  departure  of  his  generous  worth  on  earth,  it  is  our  comfort  and  joy 
to  know  that  liis  mind  lives  for  as,  and  for  all  posterity,  in  Ms  imper- 
ishable pages.  If  wc  may  not  hear  fresh  oracles  of  wisdom  and  truth 
from  his  once  indefatigable  pen,  those  which  he  has  uttered  remahi 
with  us,  ever  precious  and  affectionately  cherished.  It  is  now  our  de- 
sire to  erect  a  memorial  of  our  gratitude  for  so  rich  a  legacy.  The 
fame  of  our  Cooper  needs  no  artificial  monument ;  with  his  own  hand  has 
he  engraved  it  on  the  magic  scenery  of  our  country,  and  interwoven  ic 
with  the  legends  of  our  history. 

He  was  not  a  poet  in  the  melody  of  rhythm  or  the  responses  of 
rhyme,  but  eminently  one  in  the  faculty  of  throwing  the  charms  of  im- 
agination around  rugged  realities,  and  of  elevating  the  soul  with  noble 
sentiments.  Who,  with  any  sense  of  poetry  could  read  the 'Prairie' 
and  not  feel  entranced  by  a  poet's  spell !  He  was  a  true  poet,  and,  if  we 
had  the  spiritual  perception  or  the  vivid  imagination  of  a  true  poet,  we 
should  be  conscious  of  a  mournful  moan,from  out  the  rocky  cliffs  of  the 
Hudson,  answered  by  the  sighing  of  its  sad  waves  along  the  shores  illus- 
trated by  his  genius. 

There  is  scarcely  a  portion  of  our  land,  or  scene  of  our  best  history, 
or  field  of  the  ocean  cut  by  an  American  keel,  which  does  not  bear  testi- 
mony to  his  graphic  truth.  But,  sir,  how  dare  I  attempt  his  eulogy,  af- 
ter his  memory  has  been  crowned  this  night  by  the  classic  hand  of  him, 
whom  all  of  us  acknowledge  the  foremost  representative  of  American  po- 
etry; before  an  assembly  of  our  citizens  unparalleled  for  its  combination 
of  numbers,  intelligence  and  moral  worth,  presided  over — pardon  me, 
sir,  I  would  fain  avoid  the  excuses  of  unnecessary  compliment,  but  when 
I  use  the  briefest  term  must  pay  the  greatest  —  presided  over  by  your- 

My  friend  Mr.  Bancroft  has  said  (I  cannot  repeat  his  happy  language, 
but  will  reach  his  thought)  that  we  are  not  here  to  honor  '  other  men  of 
letters,'  the  worthy  compeers  of  their  deceased  brother;  but  I  come  out 
from  this  assembled  senate  of  authors  (among  wliom  I  have  lawfully  no 
place)  to  speak  as  one  of  tlie  people,  and  say  that  we  are  assembled  for 
their  honor  as  well  as  his. 


"We  are  met  to  assure  tliosc  eminent  men,  wlio  give  us  the  wise  lessons 
of  our  history,  ennoble  our  thoughts  by  the  highest  flights  of  song,  and 
charm  us  with  ethics  in  the  pure  strength  of  our  Saxon  tongue,  made 
graceful  and  tender  through  the  inspiration  of  an  exquisite  sensibility, 
ihat  we  are  not  ungrateful  for  the  high  benefits  which  the  Father  of  lighls 
confers  upon  us  in  their  devoted  services.  This  is  the  occasion  for  a 
precedent  of  admiring  justice  to  our  men  of  commanding  and  generous 
intellect.  It  is  a  sad  thought,  which  can  be  relieved  only  by  the  faith  that 
the  recoids  of  genius  are  imperishable— but  the  present  reality  forces  it 
upon  us — the  men  whom  we  are  this  night  happy  to  look  upon,  whose 
voice  and  pen  are  even  now  contributing  their  efforts  for  our  delight  and 
profit,  must  soon  pass  away. 

We  must  have  the  satisfaction  of  assuring  them  by  the  honour  we  pay 
to  the  memory  of  their  first-born,  first-departed  brother,  that,  when  they 
are  gone  they  shall  not  be  forgotten.  No,  gentlemen,  (bowing  to  Messrs 
Bryant,  Bancroft,  and  Irving)  go  on  in  the  noble  career  for  which  Prov- 
idence has  fitted  you, — add  hourly  to  the  inestimable  treasures  already 
bestowed  by  your  hands  upon  your  countrymen  and  the  world  ;  and  if 
you  need  a  motive  beyondyour  own  self-gratifying  love  of  doing  good,  be 
assured  that  when  you  ro.9  quoque  moriiurih^ye  left  us,  we,  who  now 
cover  with  tributary  laurels  the  brow  of  Cooper,  will  follow  your  ashes 
with  fond  and  loyal  recollections. 

Yet  our  thanks  should  not  be  expended  in  '  winged  words',  but,  for  the 
sake  of  posterity  and  the  mass  of  our  compatriot  people,  embodied  in  some 
enduring,  public  shape.  Arts  are  kindred  ;  and  among  the  best  uses  to 
which  those  who  imitate  the  visible  works  of  the  Creator  can  bo  devoted, 
is  the  preservation  of  their  form  and  features  who  have  been  benefactors 
of  their  country  and  mankind.  Therefore  would  we,  and  our  purpose 
shall  not  fail,  erect  such  a  monument  to  the  honor  of  this  great  and  good 
man,  the  first,  I  trust,  of  a  long  series,  which  shall  commemorate  his  co- 
temporaries  and  successors  in  like  dignity. 

We  could  not  fail  to  note,— as  the  orator  of  the  evening  in  simple  and 
elegant  panegyric  traced  the  long  catalogue  of  our  Cooper's  writings, — 
that  those  whicli  most  concerned  the  history  and  scenes  of  his  native  land 
and  ours,  were  most  appreciated  and  efficient.  The  classical  nations  of 
antiquity  deemed  the  fame  of  a  hero  or  a  sage  not  complete  until  they  had 
inaugurated  his  statue.  The  capitals  of  modern  Europe  are  crowded  with 
such  enduring  presentments  of  those  Avhom  kings  delight  to  honor  as  in- 

304  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

struments  of  despotism,  or  for  whom  the  people  are  permitted  to  testify 
esteem  as  friends  of  humanity.  There  is  scarcely  a  town,  however  small, 
without  one  or  more  statues  of  the  dead  in  its  open  squares.  But,  many 
as  are  the  illustrious  of  our  annals,  you  might  look  throughout  our  whole 
land,  and  (with  some  insignificant  exceptions)  discover  no  proofs  that  we 
can  appreciate  public  services. 

Let  us,  then,  invoke  the  Genius  of  Sculpture,  whose  presence  among 
us  is  so  amply  certified,  to  pourtray  for  the  eyes  of  our  people  and  their 
children,  the  lineaments  of  that  face  and  form  which,  when  living,  were 
animated  by  the  patriotic  and  zealous  spirit  of  Cooper.  Let  it  be  placed, 
not  in  a  hall  of  learning,  or  in  a  retreat  of  the  few,  but  in  the  free  common 
air  and  sunlight,  where  all  may  look  upon  it,  and  learn  fresh  gratitude, 
and  gain  fresh  incentives  to  pursuits  so  honorable  and  so  honored.  We 
have  been  told  that  his  voice  is  now  heard  in  every  civilized  tongue,  and 
we  know,  wherever  it  speaks,  it  tells  the  story  of  our  national  dignity  and 
teaches  the  maxims  of  political -wisdom  and  honesty  which  have  raised 
us  to  our  unexampled  prosperity.  Such  are  the  best  contributions  we 
can  make  to  the  freedom  of  oppressed  countries ;  because  they  shoAV 
that  without  a  popular  love  of  justice  and  union,  arms  and  blood  are  pow- 
erless to  achieve  liberty.  The  world  has  admired  our  Cooper  as  a  man 
of  genius  ;  let  them  see  that  his  countrymen  love  him  as  a  wise  champion 
of  political  truth,  and  a  faithful  citizen. 

Without  love,  which  our  God  has  ordained  to  be  the  sole  sufficient 
spring  of  all  duty,  virtue  is  but  a  name  ;  and  without  patriotism  (the  scoff 
of  knaves,  but  the  admiration  of  the  good)  our  citizenship  will  be  hy- 
pocrisy. Let  us  cherish  this  grand  virtue  ;  let  us  teach  it  to  posterity  ; 
and  by  public  respect  to  the  memory  of  those,  who,  like  Cooper,  have 
served  earnestly  under  the  institutions  which  educated  them,  conserve 
our  self-respect  and  show  our  thankfulness  for  our  wide,  rich  land,  our 
unequalled  constitution,  and  the  union  of  those  States,  the  bond  of  their 

We  conclude  these  specimens  with  a  speech  before  the 
American  Bible  Society,  perhaps  the  most  elaborate  effort 
of  the  kind  that  he  ever  prepared.  He  began  by  oifering 
the  following  Resolution  : 


**  As  the  Providence  of  God  is  bringing  great  numbers  from  foreign 
countries  to  reside  among  us,  many  of  them  without  tlie  Bible, 

Resolved,  That  it  is  among  our  first  duties  to  furnish  them  with  that 
Sacred  Book,  that  they  may  thus  become  a  blessing  and  not  an  evil  to 
our  population. 

I  am  thankful  to  the  committee  of  arrangements  for  putting  in  ray 
hands,  a  theme  which  will  greatly  assist  me  to  redeem  my  speech  from 
want  of  interest,  because  of  the  absolute  want  of  time  to  prepare  for  it. 
Here  is  a  theme  which  appeals  to  the  heart  of  every  man  not  only  as  a 
Christian,  but  also  as  a  citizen  of  the  United  States.  There  was  a  great 
and  sublime  truth  couched  in  the  Neo-Platonic  doctrine ;  that  '  God  is 
unity,'  and  that  as  wc  depart  from  God  we  run  into  multiplicity,  and  in 
proportion  as  we  go  away  from  God,  do  we  become  not  only  multiplici- 
tous  and  conflicting,  but  even  chaotic. 

God  in  tJie  beginning  spoke  to  our  first  parents,  and  to  their  immediate 
offspring ;  but  when  men  in  the  pride  of  their  wicked  hearts  were  not 
willing  to  retain  him  in  their  imagination,  they  went  out  from  Him,  and 
they  'changed  the  glory  of  the  incorruptible  God  into  an  image  made 
like  unto  corruptible  man,  and  to  birds  and  four-footed  beasts,  and 
creeping  things,'  and  thence  came  all  that  horrible  catalogue  of  vices 
which  are  included  under  the  awful  name  of  heathenism.     Without  God 
in  the  world,  the  nations  became  not  only  without  religion,  but  without 
viHue;  that  bond,  which  out  of  the  many,  constitutes  society,  was  lost 
when  the  centralizing,  harmonizing,  and  comprehending  doctrine  of  God 
was  taken  from  the  common  soul  of  humanity ;  and  sir,  out  of  this  came 
the  separation  of  mankind.     It  was  not  only  from  the  judgment  of  God 
but  a  m.oral  necessity,  that  when  the  people  erected  a  temple  to  the  false 
god,  Bel,  there  should  have  been  a  dispersion  with  a  confusion  of  lan- 
guages.    They  set  up  idolatry  in  the  place  of  the  true  God ;  and  so  de- 
clared themselves  traitorous  rebels  against  the  unity  of  the  race,  and 
God  left  them  to  their  own   devices,  and  their  very  speech  became 
warped  and  strange  to  each  other.     They  could  not  talk  in  one  tongue, 
because  they  had  lost  the  teaching  of  their  common  Father.     Out  of 
this  came  the  multitude  of  languages  which,  much  more,  perhaps,  than 
geographical  position,  separates  our  race  into  so   many   distinct  and 
often  conflicting  nations.     But,  sir,  under  the  influence  of  that  same 
religion  from  wliich  man  departed  at  the  rise  of  idolatry  —  that  blessed 

30G  MEMOIR   OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

religion  which  is  taught  in  our  Bible  —  we  return  to  the  unity  from 
which  we  have  departed. 

We  find  the  type  of  this  in  our  own  souls.  How  sweet  to  us,  how 
sweet  in  the  experience  of  every  Christian  agitated  by  the  cares  and  the 
anxieties  of  life  —  how  sweet  to  the  Christian,  when  in  his  intellectual 
pursuits  he  finds  himself  troubled  amidst  the  varieties  and  oppositions 
of  human  philosophy,  when,  like  the  messenger  of  Noah,  he  can  find 
no  rest  as  he  pursues  his  weary  and  wandering  way  over  the  dark  and 
storm-tossed  sea;  how  sweet  it  is,  sir,  to  come  home  to  God,  and  have 
our  Noah  put  forth  his  hand  and  take  us  into  the  ark  of  the  blessed 
Bible !  Then  do  we  say  with  him  of  old,  '  In  the  multitude  of  my 
thoughts  Avitliin  me  '  —  in  the  chaos  of  these  errors,  doubts  and  anxieties, 
when  human  wisdom  can  give  me  no  clue,  when  human  teachers  trouble 
me  more  by  their  contrarieties  and  difierences  — '  in  the  multitude  of 
my  thoughts  within  me,  thy  comforts  delight  my  soul.'  There  is  our 
comfort.  We  come  home  to  God ;  he  is  our  Noah,  our  Rest.  Our 
reason  bows  herself  and  looks  up  in  the  face  of  a  smiling  Father  ;  and 
as  he  speaks  to  us  by  his  Spirit  of  life,  and  says,  '  Peace,  my  child,'  the 
peace  of  God,  not  merely  the  peace, which  God  gives,  but  the  peace 
which  God  has  —  the  infinite,  profound  serenity,  the  infinite  sublime 
calm  which  dwells  in  the  mind  of  God,  far  above  the  conflicts  of  the 
storms  that,  hang  around  this  little  world  — '  the  peace  of  God  which 
passeth  all  understanding,'  comes  into  our  own  hearts,  and  as  far  as 
our  little  finite  can  hold  the  infinite,  it  fills  us  with  God  himself,  and 
our  happiness  is  like  his. 

One  of  the  heathern  philosophers,  and  the  wisest  of  them,  tells 
us  that  *  virtue  is  the  harmony  of  the  soul ; '  when  every  thought, 
affection,  desire,  and  motive  are  in  perfect  harmony,  then  is  our 
virtue  perfect.  And  another,  copying  from  him,  says,  in  language  I 
have  not  good  English  enough  properly  to  translate,  that  when  it 
shall  please  the  Divinity  to  take  from  our  eyes  the  mists,  as  they  were 
taken  from  the  eyes  of  Diomed,  we  shall  then  see  what  to  us  is  now 
invisible,  we  shall  have  the  perfect  mind,  that  is,  the  finished  reason, 
which  is  all  the  same  as  virtue.  It  must  be  so  ;  intellectual  truth 
and  moral  rectitude  must  come  together  when  they  are  perfect. 
Perfeda  mens,  id  est  ahsoluta  ratio,  quod,  est  idem  virtus. 

Now,  sir,  this  is  the  unity  of  God's  blessed  religion.  It  takes  the 
human  heart  of  the  individual,  which  is  but  the  type  of  the  whole 

UNITY    OF    BIBLE    IlELIGION.  307 

race ;  it  pervades  it  with  the  love  of  God,  Avhlch  is  the  perfection  of 
the  law,  and  instantly  all  passion,  all  desires,  all  thoughts,  all  motives, 
come  into  perfect  harmony,  and  the  virtue  of  man  is  godliness,  and 
all  true  righteousness  is  peace.  This  is  the  type  of  what  will  be  the 
effect  of  our  holy  religion  upon  the  Avhole  world.  Do  we  see,  when 
we  take  up  our  precious  Bible,  where  it  leads  us  from  its  very  begin- 
ning ?  There  are  philosophers  of  the  world,  your  cosmogonists,  or 
whatever  you  please  to  term  them,  that  are  boring  down  to  the  deep- 
est stratum  to  frame  their  hypotheses,  their  ideas.  God  forbid  that 
I  should  hold,  for  a  moment,  true  science  to  be  in  quarrel  with 
revelation.  That  can  never  be.  No,  sir,  the  God  who  made  nature 
wrote  the  Bible ;  and  I  am  not  prepared  to  be  an  infidel  as  regards 
the  one  principle  any  more  than  an  infidel  as  regards  the  other.  My 
natural  philosophy  and  my  moral  philosophy  are  in  harmony  with  my 
religion ;  but  we  have  here,  as  elsewhere,  a  multitude  of  thoughts  in 
this  humaft  mind  of  ours. 

The  cosmogonist  of  fifty  years  since  was  as  positive  that  he  was 
right  as  the  cosmogonist  of  this  day  is  positive  that  his  predecessor 
was  utterly  wrong.  Men  were  as  wise  in  their  own  conceits,  before 
they  found  out  the  simple  law  upon  which  every  child  acts  ;  the  law 
of  gravitation.  It  took  them  from  the  creation  to  Newton  to  find  out 
the  law  which  lies  upon  the  very  surface,  open  to  every  eye ;  yet 
were  they  very  positive  in  those  days.  Wise  were  they,  also,  before 
the  discovery  was  made  of  that  wonderful  element  which  pervades 
all  the  physical  economy  of  this  lower  earth,  and  whose  mysteries  we 
have  but  begun  to  penetrate,  —  I  mean  that  element  called  electricity, 
which  enters  into  every  physical  change  we  have  the  ability  to  ob- 
serve ;  which  is  found  in  light,  life,  in  everything  that  has  movement 
and  increase.  Yet  the  world,  before  they  discovered  electricity,  were 
as  wise  in  their  own  conceit  as  they  are  now ;  and  may  I  ask,  by  way 
of  parenthesis,  who  can  tell  that  to-morrow  there  may  not  be  discov- 
ered a  principle  which  has  been  hidden  from  the  world  until  now  ; 
which  shall  work  ns  great  changes  in  the  theories  of  your  cosmogonists, 
as  the  discovery  of  gravitation  or  of  electricity  ? 

But,  sir,  whatever  may  be  our  philosophical  reasonings,  the  com- 
fort of  God  delights  our  souls,  and  fills  us  with  a  peace  that  passeth 
all  understanding,  when,  as  we  read,  '  In  the  beginning  God  created 
the  heaven  and  the  earth.'     There  is  where  we  begin  ;  and  when  we 

308  MEMOIR    OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.    D. 

go  back  there,  there  is  no  conflict ;  we  have  returned  to  peace.  '  God 
created  the  heavens  and  the  earth.'  It  is  my  opinion  that  the  best 
proof,  and  the  proof  that  is  irresistible,  of  the  being  of  God,  is,  that 
we  know  his  being,  and  may  contemplate  him,  as  he  is  presented  to 
us  in  the  Scriptures.  God  alone  could  reveal  God.  Were  there  no 
God,  the  thought  of  the  Infinite  One  could  never  have  entered  our 
minds.  But,  sir,  when  we  have  that  thought,  how  does  it  lead  us 
down  from  the  original  Cause,  to  the  possible  changes  and  results  of 
the  world's  history.  '  God  created  the  heavens  and  the  earth  ; '  God 
laid  these  foundations  ;  God  planned  the  superstructure  ;  God  gave  it 
its  beauty  and  symmetry;  and  will  the  Architect,  looking  compla- 
cently upon  His  beautiful  work,  abandon  it  ?  Can  that  go  to  chance 
which  came  from  Infinite  Mind  ?  We  go  with  the  Bible  up  to  God. 
When  we  take  a  step  farther  on,  what  do  we  find  but  the  race  in  the 
one  man  and  the  one  woman  whom  God  gave  him?  and  whatever 
differences  or  distances  may,  in  the  process  of  time,  have  come 
between  man  and  man,  and  nations  and  nations,  there  we  all  meet. 
All,  from  the  noble,  proud  of  his  genealogy,  to  the  most  lowly  servant 
of  our  necessity,  meet  in  the  one  man ;  no  matter  what  tongue  is 
spoken,  no  matter  what  be  the  hue  of  the  skin,  no  matter  what  be  the 
form  of  government,  or  the  degree  of  civilization  in  which  he  lives. 
The  man  that  looks  to  the  first  man  who  came  from  the  hand  of  God, 
must  recognize  every  other  man,  on  the  face  of  the  whole  earth,  as  his 
brother.  Then  again,  when,  from  the  wickedness  of  men,  there  came 
to  be  the  necessity  of  the  washing  out  of  sin  from  the  whole  world, 
and  the  second  father  came,  in  Noah,  we  are  again  united  in  the  ark 
of  typical  promise. 

Let  me,  sir,  pass  on  to  a  yet  more  interesting  point  of  union,  when 
God  called  out  from  the  idolaters  of  that  ancient  superstition,  from  the 
very  fires  of  Baal,  his  friend,  His  chosen  instrument  of  good  and 
blessing,  the  one  he  named  Abraham,  to  go  forth,  not  knowing 
whither  he  went,  gave  him  that  promise  which  the  apostle  Paul 
emphatically  terms  the  Gospel,  and  said,  '  In  thy  seed  shall  all 
nations  be  blessed.'  There  is  no  division  there,  no  foreigner  there, 
no  division  of  human  language  or  of  human  relationship  there.  *  In 
thy  seed '  not  thy  seeds,  as  of  many,  but  as  of  one  *  in  thy  seed, 
—  which  is  Christ,  the  seed  that  succeeded  in  the  promise,  the  seed 
of  the  covenant,  'in  thy  seed,'  —  in  the  seed  of  the  woman,  —  'in 
thy  seed  shall  all  nations  be  blessed.' 


And  then  passing  on  through  the  intermediate  Scriptures,  Avhen  we 
hear  the  multitudinous  voices  of  angels  rejoicing  over  Bethlehem,  the 
same  voices,  I  doubt  not,  that  swelled  the  diapason  of  their  hallelu- 
jahs, when  *  the  morning  stars  sang  together,  and  all  the  sons  of  God 
shouted  for  joy,'  when  they  returned  to  sing  again  over  the  earth 
their  adoring  joy,  because  of  the  *  good  news  which  shall  be  to  all  the 
people.'  No  division  of  language,  no  division  of  territory,  no  division 
of  government  there ;  *  for  all  people,  '  before  the  majesty  of  that 
Gospel,  every  system  of  human  legislation,  goes  down ;  and,  while  we 
submit  ourselves  '  to  the  powers  that  be,'  in  obedience  to  the  blessed 
example  of  him  who  counted  it  his  chiefest  honor,  as  an  example  of 
human  virtue,  to  be  the  servant  of  all,  and  the  servant  of  law  ;  I  say, 
while  in  obedience  to  his  example  we  submit* to  the  law^s  of  human 
government,  we  hold  to  a  far  higher  sentiment,  '  we  have  another 
Kng,  one  Jesus.' 

Wherever  that  name  goes  in  its  power  it  reigns ;  and  Jesus  shall 
reign  until  the  whole  world  is  his.  Pardon  me  if  I  again  return  to 
this  history.  As  we  come  on  in  the  history  of  God's  providence, 
the  miraculous  portion  of  which  was  finished,  as  we  suppose,  with  the 
completion  of  the  Sacred  Canon,  we  see  other  indications  alike 
springing  from,  and  confirming  the  promise  of,  the  Divine  Word  of 
God.  We  behold  the  nations  still  separate  and  conflicting.  The 
philanthropist  looks  over  the  stormy  sea,  and  his  heart  sickens, 
and  he  asks  himself,  Shall  there  never  be  peace  ?  Shall  these  human 
brethren  always  bite  and  devour  one  another?  Is  there  no  method 
of  purifying  the  human  heart,  the  source  whence  come  '  these  wars 
and  fightings  amongst '  us  all?  How  shall  we  speak  to  them?  They 
speak  difierent  lauguages ;  we  cannot  begin  to  tell  them,  though 
our  hearts  prompt  us  to  utter  the  '  glad  tidings  of  great  joy.'  We 
cannot  begin  to  tell  them  the  wonderful  works  of  God,  because  we 
cannot  speak  in  their  various  tongues.  Yet  here  is  the  blessing  of 
the  Pentecost  repeated.  Yes,  sir,  tenfold  is  the  blessing  that  rests 
upon  your  Society. 

I  do  not  remember  how  many  languages  were  known,  and  reduced  to 
jeystem,  at  the  time  of  the  Pentecost;  but  you  may  count  them  alias 
they  are  given  in  the  catalogue,  by  the  sacred  historian,  and  though 
they  appear  many,  how  few  they  are  to  the  number  of  languages  upon 
the  face  of  the  earth,  at  the  present  day  I     But  what  has  the  Bible 

310  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

Society  done  ?  I  say  the  Bible  Society,  because  there  will  be  no  ques- 
tion here  of  my  claiming,  for  the  Bible  Society,  a  share  in  the  philologi- 
cal triumphs  of  missionaries  and  students  under  the  influence  of  the 
Bible-  What  has  the  Bible  Society  done  ?  At  the  beginning  of  this 
century,  if  I  mistake  not,  the  languages  of  men  that  had  been  reduced 
to  system,  to  grammar,  or  dictionary,  or  even  vocabulary,  did  not 
amount  to  more  than  some  forty  or  fifty.  What  is  the  case  now? 
Your  Secretary  can  give  the  more  exact  number ;  I  cannot  be  exact  to 
a  unit  or  so  ;  but  in  your  own  library,  —  certainly,  if  not  there,  in  the 
combined  libraries  of  the  American  and  the  British  and  Foreign  Bible 
Societies,  — you  will  find  the  Word  of  God  in  one  hundred  and  seventy 
languages.  I  call  upon  men  of  learning,  I  call  upon  the  philosophers 
of  the  world,  I  call  upon  all  the  Universities  which  are  claimed  to  be 
fountains  of  light  and  knowledge,  I  challenge  the  whole  earth,  in  all  its 
breadth  and  all  its  history,  to  give  me  an  equal  triumph  to  this ;  a 
triumph  of  science,  and  triumph  of  learning,  and  triumph  of  philan- 
thropy, like  that  which  has  trebled,  more  than  trebled,  the  common 
speech  of  the  world,  in  less  than  sixty  years;  gives  us  access,  literally 
so,  where  we  had  it  to  but  fifty  peoples,  to  one  hundred  and  seventy ; 
so  that  we  and  all  of  us  who  wish  to  talk  can  talk,  or  may  soon  talk,  to 
the  heart  of  our  brother,  wherever  he  lives,  or  whatever  tongue  he 
speaks,  and  make  your  Bible  Society  our  own  interpreter  to  all  our 
kindred  flesh.  Ah,  sir,  I  am  not  so  weaned  from  the  love  of  the  world 
as  not  to  rejoice  over  the  triumphs  of  learning,  and  it  is  my  delight  to 
see  how  the  triumphs  of  religion  take  the  triumphs  of  learning  into  the 
most  sacred  fellowship. 

"When  that  great  land,  that  mysterious  nation,  where  there  has  been 
a  civilization  more  ancient  far  than  our  own,  that  people  whose  records 
go  back  to  the  period  when  the  ruins  of  the  deluge  were  yet  visible 
upon  the  face  of  their  country,  and  which  is  locked  up  from  the  rest  of 
the  world  because  of  its  peculiar  systems  of  governmental  policy  and 
its  peculiarly  difficult  language,  was  to  be  treated  with,  when  it  was 
necessary  that  we,  the  commercial  nations  of  the  earth,  England, 
France,  and  America,  should  talk  to  China,  the  many  hundred 
millions  of  China,  who  was  the  interpreter?  Did  we  go  to  Oxford? 
Could  we  find  him  in  Paris?  Had  we  him  in  our  own  Princeton,  Yale, 
or  Harvard?  Sir,  it  was  the  missionary  that  talked  for  England,  the 
son  of  Morrison,  who  translated  the  Bible;  and  the  missionary  that 


talked  for  America,  our  own  noble  Parker,  at  the  mention  of  whose 
name«  if  this  place  were  not  sacred,  you  would  burst  forth  in  applause. 
It  was  a  missionary,  though  unhappily  not  of  our  own  pure  Protestant 
creed,  that  talked  for  France.  "Were  it  not  for  a  despised  missionary, 
taught,  animated,  and  inspired  by  the  Word  of  God,  which  he  loved,  we 
could  have  made  no  treaty  with  China,  because  China  could  not  have 
understood  us,  or  we  China.  This  is  an  illustrative  fact,  to  my  mind, 
of  the  greatest  importance.  It  shows  that  it  is  not  philanthropy,  it  is 
not  learning,  it  is  not  commercial  enterprise,  but  it  is  religion,  the 
religion  of  the  Bible,  the  religion  of  the  Bible  Society,  if  you  will, 
which  is  to  bring  all  nations  together,  to  make  them  speak  one  lan- 
guage, and  to  sing  in  perfect  harmony,  at  no  distant  day,  one  song  unto 
God  and  His  Christ.  There  are  thoughts  connected  with  this  of 
infinite  interest  to  us  all ;  but  while  I  speak  thus,  let  me  briefly,  —  for 
I  will  not  weary  an  audience  who  are  listening  to  me  so  patiently  and 
kindly,  —  let  me  illustrate  the  fact  by  a  touching  incident : 

During  the  war  of  the  Crimea,  after  one  of  the  most  sanguinary 
engagements,  when  the  furious  Frank  and  bearded  Turk,  and  stalwart 
Briton  and  stolid  Russ,  had  mingled  in  the  fearful  fray;  when  the 
battle-field  was  strewed  with  the  dead  and  dying,  and  strange  faces 
were  passing  before  the  swimming  eyes  of  those  whose  thoughts  were 
going  back  to  their  homes,  perchance  by  the  Don  or  the  Volga,  where 
their  'young  barbarians  were  at  play  ;'  perhaps  their  home,  around 
which  rustled  the  leaves  of  the  vine,  in  merry  France ;  perchance  the 
home  in  the  village,  with  its  green  lattice  and  its  Sabbath  chime  of  old 
England;  when,  in  this  fearful  hour,  as  the  prowler  was  stealing  from 
one  to  another  to  rob  the  dead,  and  hate  v/as  seeking  out  more 
victims  to  glut  itself  upon,  and  tliere,  in  mortal  agony,  lay  a  poor 
Russian,  thirsting  for  water  with  the  burning  thirst  wliich  only  gunshot 
wounds  can  cause,  there  came  near  him  a  French  and  an  English 
soldier.  As  they  met  together,  searching  for  their  comrades,  they 
looked  into  his  face,  and  he  looked  eagerly  into  theirs,  and  said, 
'Christos ! '  Ah  !  sir,  God  be  thanked  for  that  name,  the  name  which 
is  above  every  name,  which  in  all  varieties  of  language  we  recognize 
as  the  name  of  Him  '  whose  we  are,  and  whom  we  serve.' 

But,  sir,  you  will  pardon  me  for  leaving  so  long  the  resolution  which 
you  committed  to  me,  and  yet  I  do  not  think  I  have  wandered  from  the 

312  MEMOIli   OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

spirit  of  it.  It  is,  that  '  to  this  land  the  Providence  of  God  is  bringing 
great  numbers  from  foreign  countries  to  reside  among  us,  many  of  them 
without  the  Bible.'  Such  is  the  preamble.  Who  is  doing  this  ?  What 
is  the  reason  that  these  people  come  from  so  many  countries,  that  your 
Secretary,  according  to  ordinary  speech,  but  not  according  to  the  higher 
diction  of  Christian  philanthropy,  calls  foreign  countries  ?  Why  is  k 
that  they  come  here?  It  is  '  the  providence  of  God;'  the  same 
providence  that  of  old  laid  the  foundations  of  the  earth  ;  the  providence 
of  Him  who  walked  amongst  the  trees  of  the  garden  of  Eden,  and  talked 
Avith  our  first  father ;  the  providence  of  Him  who  gathered  our  second 
family  into  his  ark,  the  same  type  of  that  ark  Avhich  is  to  gather  the 
saved  out  of  all  nations  ;  the  providence  of  him  who  said  to  Abraham, 
'in  thy  seed,  (not  in  thy  seeds,  as  to  many,  but  unto  thy  seed,  as  of  one) 
'  in  thy  seed  shall  ail  nations  be  blessed  ;  '  the  providence  of  Him  who 
sent  his  only  begotten  Son  with  good  tidings  '  which  shall  be  to  ail 
peoples  ; '   that  '  providence  brought  these  people  to  our  shores.' 

Who  are  they  whom  you  call  foreig7iers?  Are  they  not  children  of 
our  first  father,  Adam?  If  we  rejoice  in  the  blessings  of  the  gospel  that 
was  first  preached  to  Abraham,  in  the  blessings  of  that  gospel  heralded 
at  our  Saviour's  birth,  we  must  acknowledge  them  as  those  to  whom  the 
gospel  was  sent  as  unto  us.  We  have  no  right  to  exclude  them,  they 
come  here  to  their  Father's  land ;  they  come  here  to  the  tents  of  their 
brethren  ;  they  come  here  to  join  that  company.  I  trust,  at  least,  that 
many,  with  God's  blessing,  will  join  that  '  commonwealth,'  in  which 
'  there  are  no  mora  strangers  and  foreigners,  but  citizens  with  the  saints 
and  of  the  household  of  God,' 

Now  to  come  to  the  approximate  fact  of  the  illustration  by  which  I 
have  been  endeavoring  to  show  the  comprehending,  coalescing  principle 
of  this  blessed  religion  of  ours,  combining  with  the  providence  of  God. 
How  long  did  this  continent  lie  sleeping  in  the  darkness  of  o'olivion? 
How  long  were  the  forests  waving  over  the  soil  which  the  plough  had 
never  stirred?  How  long  were  these  territories,  now  crowded  with  pop- 
ulous cities  and  smiling  farms,  the  hunting-ground  of  the  wild  man,  not 
less  savage  than  tlie  beast  that  he  hunted?  Almost  as  long  as  that  law 
of  gravitation  was  hidden  from  the  knowledge  of  man ;  almost  as  long  as 
that  great  principle  or  element  of  electricity  was  hidden  in  mystery; 
almost  as  long  as  man  was  ignorant  of  the  art  of  printing  or  the  inapel- 
ling  force  of  steam ;  but  it  is  but  a  little  distance  in  the  history  of 
centuries  that  these  great  discoveries  are  a  part. 


At  this  time  God  opens  this  continent;  and  here  He  says  to  all  nations 
of  the  earth,  Here  is  a  land  where,  for  the  first  time  since  the  institutions 
of  human  government,  religion  has  been  free  from  legal  patronage  or 
legal  oppression ;  here,  where  for  the  first  time  with  intelligent  insti- 
tutions, man  has  a  right,  under  God,  to  be  liis  own  ruler ;  here  is  an 
asylum,  like  the  blessed  gospel,  for  every  one  that  is  under  trouble  and 
ignominy  in  the  old  world,  to  flee  to  and  be  at  rest. 

I  wish  to  say  nothing  severe  of  any  one,  but  I  am  frank  to  say,  I  have 
no  sympatliy  with  the  spirit  which  says  that  the  foreigner  has  no  claim 
to  our  sympathy  because  he  is  a  foreigner.  Good,  ancient  George 
Herbert  tells  us  that  '  Man  is  God's  image,  but  a  poor  man  is  Christ's 
stamp  to  boot.'  And  so  I  say  wherever  I  see  a  human  form,  and  human 
intellect,  and  human  afiection  beaming  from  the  human  countenance, 
There  is  my  brotlier.  But  when  I  see  a  man  that  is  a  stranger,  and 
licar  the  accents  of  a  foreign  tongue,  I  see  the  image  of  Him  who  for  my 
sake  was  'a  stranger  in  the  earth,'  and  '  liad  not  wliere  to  lay  his  head.' 
This  is  the  sentiment  which,  to  my  faith,  our  religion  enjoins.  This  is 
the  sentiment  which,  as  I  believe,  is  the  grand  doctrine  of  our  noble  de- 
mocracy, for  I  love  to  use  that  word ;  men  pervert  it,  as  they  do  other 
good  words,  but  I  rejoice  to  avow  myself,  in  the  same  sentence,  a 
Christian  and  a  democrat.  I  mean,  by  that  term,  a  man  who  ac- 
knowledges liis  fellow-man  as  his  equal,  and  is  willing  to  give  to  every 
man  the  rights  whicli  God  lias  given  to  him.  Here  we  have  in  this  land, 
by  the  providence  of  God,  the  nations  coming  together. 

Look  at  the  nations  of  the  world  that  have  been  separated ;  look  at 
India  sleeping,  or  convulsed  in  a  delirium  of  half  sleep,  half  wakeful- 
ness ;  look  at  those  nations  wliich  sliow  something  of  a  civilization  that 
they  have  had  in  these  former  ages  from  the  light  of  science  —  for  next 
to  Egypt,  India  was  once  the  most  enlightened,  if  indeed  India  were  not 
the  mother  from  whom  Egypt  learned  her  philosophy.  But  what  has 
India  become  ?  What  has  the  exclusive  nation  of  China  become  ? 
Shut  up  to  themselves,  witli  no  minglement  of  foreign  bloods,  no  mingle- 
ment  of  foreign  habits  and  manners,  in  their  own  sameness  from  day  to 
day,  without  impulse,  without  variety,  without  stinmlus,  there  they  lie 
what  they  Avere,  nay,  more  dead  than  thej^  were,  thousands  of  years  ago. 
But,  sir,  you  may  take,  as  you  very  well  know,  Tacitus  or  Cjesar,  and 
you  shall  read  in  their  writings  the  description  of  the  Gaul,  the  German, 
and  the  Spaniard,  and  tliey  are  exceptis  ezcipiendis,  and  you  can  know 
them  at  this  day  by  the  same  cliaractcristics. 

314  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

They  have  more  learning,  more  science,  more  religion  certainly,  but 
the  spirit  of  the  people  is  one,  and  as  peoples  they  have  risen  but  little, 
or  from  their  risings  they  have  fallen  back,  and  made  comparatively 
little  progress.  I  mean  progress  in  those  great  arts  of  comprehensive 
civilization  and  philanthropic  philosophy  which  elevate  the  soul  above 
the  jealousies  of  earth,  and  combine  men  in  the  unities  of  Love.  But 
why  is  it?  Because  shut  up,  each  family  to  itself,  they  have  married 
with  their  own  blood,  and  the  curse  of  the  incest  is  upon  them.  But 
cross  that  narrow  channel  and  enter  our  own  motherland,  at  least  the 
grandmother  land  of  most  of  us  here,  and  what  a  different  condition  is 
presented  there  !  We  have  our  motherland,  but  we  delight  to  think  of 
the  grandmother-land  from  which  our  fathers  came.  Cross,  I  say,  to 
England,  and  if  you  choose — and  I  wish  that  you  would  —  abide  a 
little  while  in  the  states  of  the  Low  Countries;  for  the  history  of  those 
Low  Netherlands  is,  in  the  respects  of  v/hicli  I  am  about  to  speak,  almost 
identical  with  that  of  England. 

If  you  look  at  the  origin  of  tbece  people,  on  their  little  sandbars, 
beginning  to  wrest  from  the  ocean  the  patrimony  which  they  have  be- 
queathed to  their  children,  building  in  the  course  of  successive  cen- 
turies those  dykes  which  have  cost  more  than  If  they  had  been  erected 
of  solid  brass  from  their  foundation  to  their  top,  you  will  find  that  it 
was  the  blood  of  a  free  people  of  different  blood  driven  on  the  one  hand 
by  the  encroachments  of  the  Koman  empire,  and  on  the  other  by  the 
tyranny  of  feudal  oppressors  ;  yes,  you  will  find  that  it  was  the  com- 
bination of  the  blood  of  free  people  that  made  the  early  cities  of 
Holland  what  they  were  ;  that  taught  them  the  combination  of  mutual 
rights ;  and,  above  all,  taught  them  that  union  of  free  independent 
sovereignties  from  which  our  fathers  learned  the  best  secrets  of  our 
own  unparalleled  prosperity.  It  may  be  more  familiar,  however,  to 
the  memory  of  those  to  whom  I  speak  —  for  it  is  not  every  one  that 
has  the  courage  to  penetrate  within  the  comparative  obscurity  which 
is  hung  over  the  shores  of  the  Dutch,  and  but  for  the  recent  brillian- 
cies of  genius  which  have  been  shed  by  Motley  and  Prescott  upon  their 
history,  we  should  know  comparatively  little  of  them. 

Pass  into  England,  and  see  what  you  have  there.  There  are  the 
ancient  Britons,  and  traces  of  a  race,  if  not  races,  yet  more  ancient. 
There  you  have  the  blood  of  the  Saxons  and  the  Angles,  of  the  Danes 
and  the  Normans,  and  the  Flemings,  and  the  fugitive  Huguenots. 

AMERICA    THE    HOME    OF   ALL    RACES.  315 

You  have  them  mingled  ;  their  names,  the  names  of  foreigners,  stand 
high  in  their  annals ;  and  while  the  genuine  Saxon  is  yet  the  basis  of 
the  people,  every  contributor  to  a  combined  race  has  marked  its  hon- 
orable position  high  amidst  the  catalogue  of  the  nobles  and  the  clergy 
and  the  learned  jurists. 

But  sir,  what  has  made  England  what  she  is  ?  Men  are  proud  to 
talk  of  Anglo-Saxon  blood ;  men  are  proud  to  talk  of  commercial 
enterprise,  and  all  that  sort  of  thing  ;  but  I  go  behind  Anglo-Saxon 
blood ;  I  go  to  that  which  inspires  enterprise,  commerce,  to  the 
minglement  of  bloods  in  the  British  people.  That  is  what  has  made 
them  what  they  are.  And  here  sir,  God  in  this  land  of  ours  is  work- 
ing out  a  far  more  majestic  purpose.  England  may  do  very  well  for 
an  experiment  upon  a  small  scale,  as  a  sculptor  would  model  the  gi- 
gantic statue  of  his  imagination  in  a  lump  of  plaster ;  but  England  is 
too  little,  sir,  for  the  outworking  of  God's  providence  in  that  respect. 
There  is  a  necessity  for  a  wide  continent,  for  a  more  comprehensive 
system  of  government ;  and  God  has  found  it  here  —  found  it  here, 
sir.  He  knew  it  from  the  foundation  of  the  earth.  He  predestined 
it  when  he  predestined  the  triumph  of  his  Son  over  all  nations.  God 
has  given  us  here  the  theatre  for  this  stupendous  development.  Here 
they  come  from  all  lands  —  all  the  children  of  our  father  Adam — all 
objects  of  our  Saviour's  love  —  all  brethren  of  the  same  humanity. 
Here  they  come,  talking  as  they  land  more  languages,  tenfold,  than 
the  languages  of  Babel,  but  soon  learn  to  coalesce  in  a  common 
tongue  our  noble  English,  which  is  to  be  the  language  of  the  whole 
world.  Yes,  sir,  here  they  come,  the  best  bloods  of  all  nations  of 
men  —  men  who  would  rather  be  poor  than  under  an  oppressive  gov- 
ernment ;  men  who  say,  *  Let  me  suffer,  let  the  wife  of  my  bosom 
suffer,  but  let  us  find  a  home  for  our  children  where  they  can  rise.' 

These  are  the  people  that  come  to  us,  the  more  than  noble  army 
of  martyrs,  men  and  women  who  suffer  for  posterity ;  and  as  I  be- 
lieve, though  they  know  it  not,  suffer  for  God  in  their  coming  across 
the  sea  and  in  encountering  the  difficulties  of  a  new  land.  These  are 
the  people  whom  we  arc  to  meet  upon  our  shores.  These  are  the 
people  who  bring  us  elements  of  excellence  from  every  race ;  that 
here  we  may  see  the  vivacity  of  the  Gaul,  the  staid  independence  of 
the  German,  the  athletic  character  and  determination  of  the  Briton,  and 
all   the  other  varieties     of    human  virtue    combining  to   form,   not 

316  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

many  nations,  but  one ;  to  make,  as  God  in  his  grace  made  out  of 
the  Jew  and  Gentile,  out  of  all  nations  '  one  new  man  : '  so  making 
peace  '  between  all  nations.' 

Now,  sir,  how  are  we  going  to  bring  these  men  into  this  union  ? 
It  is  by  the  power  of  the  Bible  which  you  print,  by  the  power  of  that 
blessed  name  '  Christos,'  which  brought  tears  to  the  eyes  of  every  one 
of  you  a  moment  since,  the  gospel  which  never  fails  to  melt  under  the 
force  of  Christian  love  and  in  the  alembic  of  God's  fervent  truth,  all 
elements  into  one  amalgam,  that  it  may  adorn  with  the  most  pre- 
cious richness  the  brow  of  Christ,  the  King  of  nations  and  the  King 
of  saints.  We  need  the  Bible  to  do  this ;  and  the  Bible  will  do  it. 
AVe  can  talk  to  them,  sir.  Go  to  Washington,  go  to  your  universities, 
and  tell  them  to  give  you  the  selection  of  their  proudest  men  and 
their  most  accomplished  interpreters ;  and  all  Washington  and  all 
your  universities  combined  cannot  give  us  men  that  can  talk  to  one- 
tenth  part  of  these  people ;  but  your  Society  can  talk  to  each  of 
them,  be  he  what  he  may.  Find  out  his  country  and  his  tongue,  and 
when  he  comes  to  your  Society  for  his  language,  it  is  in  your  library ; 
you  have  the  Book  of  Life  there  for  him ;  give  it  to  him. 

Let  us  speak  plainly  of  the  claims  of  these  people  upon  us.  There 
was,  far  back  in  the  brief  history  of  our  beloved  land,  but  not  far 
back  in  the  history  of  the  world's  ages,  a  band  of  determined  men 
who  cast  the  anchor  of  their  little  vessel  near  to  a  cold  and  barren 
rock.  The  December  winds  were  howling  through  their  shrouds,  and 
scattering  ice  upon  their  decks,  and  they  could  scarcely  hold  their 
canvass,  which  was  frozen  stiff  as  sheets  of  iron.  They  looked  upon  a 
bleak  shore ;  they  saw  no  trace  of  human  brotherhood ;  they  heard 
no  sound  of  a  human  voice,  except  it  be  the  howl  which  they  kncAv 
not  whether  it  was  a  man  or  the  wild  beasts ;  they  saw  no  trace  of 
man,  unless  it  might  be  some  broken  arrow  whose  barb  was  red  with 
human  blood.  They  landed  there;  and  on  that  rude  and  barren 
shore  they  knelt  as  *  strangers  and  foreigners  '  unto  the  stranger's 
God ;  giving  worship  to  him  and  to  his  kingdom,  and  trusting  in 
his  providence. 

Their  story  has  had  the  advantage  of  more  eloquence,  more  poeti- 
cal illustration ;  but  not  far  from  the  same  period  there  came  those 
more  prosaic  in  their  character,  but  not  a  whit  less  generous  in  their 
noble  virtues,  to  this  very  spot  where  we  are  met ;  men  who   loved 

GIVE    STKANGEUR    THE    lUBLE.  317 

their  Bible ;  men,  every  one  of  whom  had  their  Bible  clasped  and 
riveted,  as  though  they  \wre  determined  to  keep  the  devil  himself 
from  depriving  them  of  their  comforts  ;  men  Avho  before  they  had  been 
here  many  days,  set  up  the  worship  of  God  in  its  simplicity ; — I  mean 
the  men  of  Holland,  who,  in  many  respects,  deserve  the  credit  of  be- 
ing as  much  the  moral  progenitors  of  this  land,  as  the  pilgrim 
fathers  of  New  England,  for  whom  such  a  monopoly  of  generation 
has  been  claimed. 

And  there  also  came  at  successive  times  the  Presbyterians  from 
England  and  Ireland,  Scotland  and  France,  with  the  church-loving 
Cavaliers.  They  were  all  strangers  ;  but,  O  sir,  what  must  have  been 
the  thoughts  of  those  pilgrims  kneeling  by  that  desert  rock  !  What 
must  have  been  the  thoughts  of  those  Hollanders  as  they  knelt  on  the 
shores  of  that  narrow  peninsula,  which  is  now  crowned  with  this  ma- 
jestic city  !  Alone,  far  from  their  native  land,  far  from  the  churches  in 
which  their  fathers  worshipped,  far  from  the  familiar  speech  of  neigh- 
bor and  friend — alone,  alone, — yet  not  alone,  for  the  '  Universal 
Father'  was  with  them,  this  was  their  consoling  thought,  that 
wherever  they  went,  whatever  soil  they  touched,  they  got  no  farther 
from  God.  They  were  as  near  Him  on  the  shores  of  Plymouth,  and 
the  Bay  of  Massachusetts — or  whatever  the  name  was  at  that  period — 
amidst  the  woods  of  Virginia,  on  the  sea  islands  of  Carolina,  or  among 
the  mountains  of  Pennsylvania ;  they  were  as  near  God  there  as 
though  they  knelt  in  the  cathedral,  whose  flags  had  been  hallowed  by 
the  tread  of  the  generations  of  a  thousand  years. 

And  this  is  what  I  ask  you  to  do  in  my  resolution  for  these  people 
who  come  here :  meet  them  upon  the  shores ;  meet  them  with  that 
one  Word  of  God,  which  they  can  all  understand,  and  which  speaks 
to  all,  and  tells  them  they  are  not  strangers,  that  God  is  here,  that 
the  blessing  of  God  upon  the  strangers,  our  fathers,  is  ready  to  rest 
upon  them,  strangers  though  they  seem,  and  upon  their  children  for 
ever ;  and  thus  shall  we  call  perfect  a  nation  which  shall  present  to 
the  world  such  a  spectacle  as  no  Papal  universahsm,  no  Roman  em- 
pire, has  ever  equalled. 

One  word  more  :  This  is  but  a  type  again  of  that  grandest  triumph 
of  all,  when  God  shall  throw  open  the  doors  of  his  own  House,  with  its 
many  mansions,  for  all  his  cliildren  ;  when,  in  a  peace  more  joyous 
than  that  which  welcomed  the  long-wandering  prodigal  home,  the 

318  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETIIUXE,    D.  D. 

wide  hall  shall  be  filled  for  the  banquet  and  the  festival ;  when  there 
shall  come  those  of  all  kindreds,  and  cl-imes,  and  tongues,  under 
the  face  of  the  whole  heavens  :  when  all  ages  of  the  past,  meeting  with 
all  the  ages  of  posterity,  all  time,  all  lands,  all  people,  shall  come  to- 
gether, no  longer  separated,  no  longer  multiplicity,  but  one  in  Christ, 
one  in  the  love  of  God,  through  the  Redeemer.  O  sir,  I  love  to 
think  of  that  time  !  How  my  soul  goes  out  beyond  the  pettiness  of 
party  strife  !  How  I  seem  to  rise  even  in  my  littleness,  as  the  morn- 
ing bird  on  its  light  wing  rises  above  the  turmoil  and  hurly-burly  of 
men,  to  sing  unto  God!  How  my  heart  goes  out,  exults  beyond  all 
these  restrictions  of  a  sinful  world,  and  rejoices,  as  I  recognize  myself 
no  longer  a  citizen  of  a  narrow  province,  no  longer  as  confined  in  my 
nationality  to  a  few  brother  tribesmen,  but  as  one  of  the  vast  family  of 
God,  the  universal  family  of  faith  in  Christ  Jesus.  How  I  rejoice 
as  I  anticipate  that  day  when  I  shall  be  welcomed  as  I  come  near 
my  Father's  threshold — for  we  shall  not  come  unwelcomed  there — 
when  I  shall  be  welcomed  by  all  these  people  that  the  religion  of 
Christ  has  taught  me  to  love  upon  earth ;  nay,  when  not  only  these 
people,  but  when  all  the  tribes  of  God's  creation,  when  the  inhabi- 
tants of  distant  worlds,  that  have  looked  upon  us  with  interest  like 
that  of  the  angels,  when  these  shall  come  in  from  every  province  of 
God's  universal  empire,  his  spiritual  children,  we  shall  be  one,  gathered 
together  in  Christ,  the  Son  of  God,  and  therefore  heir  of  all  things  ; 
the  Son  of  Man,  and  therefore  our  Elder  Brother — when  we  shall  be 
all  gathered  together  in  one,  and  God  be  the  Father,  and  his  glory 
the  joy  of  the  universe  for  ever." 




Our  search  among  the  papers  of  Dr.  Bethune  has  brought 
us  up  to  the  beginning  of  the  year  1855.  He  was  a  man  like 
the  rest  of  us,  and  did  not  escape  calumny.  During  the  hol- 
idays he  had  attended  a  dinner  of  the  St.  Nicholas  Society, 
where,  according  to  Mr.  H.  T.  Pierrepont  "  his  speech  was 
of  a  much  more  serious  order  than  was  usual  at  our  anniver- 
saries ;  he  spoke  as  a  true  son  of  New  York  and  gave  many 
references  to  history  to  the  credit  of  the  Dutch  Nation." 
Yet,  because  he  attended  a  public  dinner,  a  paragraph 
appeared  in  a  Hartford  paper  in  which  the  writer,  under  the 
secure  cover  of  "  anonymous,"  made  insinuations  against 
Dr.  B.  both  gross  and  cruel.  This  attack  called  forth  a 
storm  of  indignation  from  all  quarters ;  and  perhaps  the  pastor 
would  not  have  known  how  many  true  and  appreciating 
friends  he  had,  had  it  not  been  for  this  unjustifiable  slander. 
But  apart  from  his  well-ordered  and  scholarly  speech,  the 
laborious  and  exemplary  life  of  the  Doctor  is  the  best  reply  ; 
indeed  it  were  scarcely  worth  while  to  make  a  record  of  it 
except  as  one  of  the  sore  trials  to  which  his  sensitive  nature 
was  exposed,  and  to  get  his  view  of  such  attacks.  Probably 
no  two  men  when  made  the  object  of  such  moral  assassination 
behave  in  the  same  way.  One,  who  was  in  the  habit  of  find- 
ing such  jets  of  venom  among  his  morning  letters,  when  he 
did  not  know  the  hand  looked  for  the  signature,  and  when 

320  MEMOIR    OF    GEO.    Vr.    BETIIUNE,    D.  D. 

he  saw  none,  instantly  dropped  the  paper  into  the  fire,  and 
that  was  the  end  of  it.  But  not  every  one  has  this  self- 
command,  while  many  of  these  poisonous  stabs  are  delivered 
through  the  medium  of  the  dail}^  press. 

The  editor  who  lends  himself  to  the  transaction  is  rarely 
worth  powder  and  shot,  and  the  intended  victim  cannot 
always  obtain  redress.  It  may, perhaps,  not  be  uninterest- 
ing to  our  readers  to  see  one  of  the  ways  in  which  a  ''  vcn- 
omed  stab"  is  sometimes  parried,  and  we  insert  a  few 
paragraphs  which  were  found  in  Dr.  B's  handwriting  among 
his  papers  ;  although  we  have  no  certainty  that  it  was  writ- 
ten in  reference  to  the  present  occasion,  it  carries  its  own 


"You  have  written  an  anonymous  letter,  a  dishonorable  act  which 
none  but  a  coward  would  be  guilty  of.  I  might  well  take  no  heed  of 
a  charge  so  silly,  coming  from  a  source  so  mean,  and  should  not,  but 
for  charity  to  point  out  the  injustice  you  have  done,  that  you  may  be 
deterred  from  writing  anonymously  again. 

You  must  be  strangely  ignorant  to  suppose  that  a  speaker  (unex- 
pectedly called  upon)  toward  the  close  of  a  long,  excited  meeting,is 
responsible  for  the  very  words  into  which  a  tired  reporter  condenses  his 
remarks.  Had  you  been  present  you  would  have  known  that  I  was 
the  most  reluctant  speaker  of  the  evening,  and  that  a  hoarseness  com- 
pelled me  to  stop  suddenly.  This  is  stated  in  one,  at  least,  of  the 
newspapers.  Had  you  heard  me  you  would  also  have  known  that  I 
levelled  the  charges  of  gross  immoralitj'  against  the  Continental  des- 
pots who  are  combining  against  the  freedom  of  the  people.  The  re- 
porter of  the  Express  lias  lefl  out  Continental  but  retained  the  sense. 
Is  Victoria  of  Continental  Europe,  is  she  a  despot  ?  Is  she  one  qi  the 
conspirators  against  the  freedom  of  the  people? 

As  for  the  conspiring  despots,  I  excepted  Nicholas,  whose  personal 
habits  are  chaste ;  but  of  which  of  the  rest  can  it  be  said  that  they  are 
not  vile,  murderous,  or  perjured !  My  charge  did  not  include  the 
reigning  houses  of  Sweden,  Spain,  Portugal ;  liut  you  know  little  of 


present  history,  if  you  consider  them  other  than  debauched  persons. 
You  might  make  a  stand  for  the  weak  but  obstinate  King  of  Prussia, 
whose  personal  life  is  not  impure,  had  I  not  spoken  of  families  or  dy- 
nasties rather  than  single  Individuals  ;  yet  he  is  '  steeped  in  perjuries ' 
with  the  *  blood  of  thousands '  on  his  deceitful  soul. 

Your  last  accusation  is  as  ridiculous  as  it  is  false.  Assuming  (what 
is  utterly  untrue  even  according  to  the  report  in  the  Express)  that  I 
intended  the  Queen  of  Great  Britain  in  my  denunciation,  you  charge 
me  with  '  traducing  the  land  of  my  forefathers.'  Is  the  Queen  of  Great 
Britain  or  her  court,  the  land  of  my  ancestors  ?  If  I  should  say,  as  I 
might,  that  George  IV.,  all  the  Georges  except  the  III.,  were  de- 
bauched, would  that  be  calumniating  Scotland^  I  am  a  Scotchman 
sir,  a  title  I  value  next  to  that  of  an  American,  by  birth.  I  have  never 
spoken  of  Scotland  but  with  affectionate  praise.  No  deserving  per- 
son with  a  Scotch  accent  has  ever  asked  my  help  and  been  refused  it. 
When  Scotland  was  threatened  with  famine,  I  wrote  the  Pennsylva- 
nian  Address  which  brought  in  for  her  relief  $28,000.  Of  that  sum 
my  immediate  personal  exertions  raised  $1,200;  and  now  I  am  ac- 
cused by  a  malicious  anonymous  green-horn  with  calumniating  the 
land  of  my  fathers  ! 

You  sign  yourself  Americanus ;  but  I  cannot  believe  that  you  are 
a  native-born  citizen,  though,  possibly,  you  may  have  been  natu- 

You  will,  perhaps,  think  my  language  to  you  uncharitably  harsh 
and  so,  unbecoming ;  but  you  are  beyond  the  pale  of  charity.  You  are 
not  a  many  but  an  anonymous  thing.  You  have  no  name,  and,  there- 
fore, no  character,  no  conscience,  no  feelings.  You  excuse  yourself  by 
saying  that  a  public  speech  is  open  to  public  comments  ;  but  you  are 
not  the  public,  your  charges  are  not  public,  you  could  not  make  them 
public  without  assuming  a  responsibility  from  which  you  hide  ;  while  a 
public  speaker  stands  out  openly.  Had  you  written  to  me  over  your 
own  name  as  a  gentleman,  I  would  gladly  have  responded  kindly  and 
set  you  right. 

Take  my  advice  and  never  write  another  anonymous  letter.  It  is  a 
crime  which  nolhing  can  justify,  except  it  be  in  reply  to  what  is  anony- 
mous. If  you  have  anything  which  you  feel  bound  to  say,  put  your 
name  to  it,  and  it  will  have  as  much  respect  as  your  name  is  worth ; 

322  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUXE,    D.  D. 

but  if  you  say  what  you  are  ashamed  or  afraid  to  indorse  with  your 
credit,  you  make  yourself  either  a  coward,  or  a  knave,  or  both." 

However  unjustifiable,  however  silly,  still  there  is  a 
wonderful  power  in  an  evil  report ;  it  will  travel  much 
farther  and  be  more  eagerly  related  than  the  consistent  life 
of  godliness. 

In  the  middle  of  the  year  the  pastoral  relation  with  the 
*'  Church  on  the  Heights''  became  disturbed.  To  external 
appearance  that  church  was  in  the  highest  state  of  prosper- 
it3\  Its  services  were  well  sustained,  and  the  audiences 
crowded,  its  benevolence  large,  and  Sunday  schools  expand- 
ing, but  the  anxious  eye  of  the  pastor  beheld  signs  of  alarm. 
Contrary  to  his  advice,  the  edifice  had  been  more  costly 
than  was  intended,  and  a  heavy  debt  rested  upon  it ;  this 
made  it  necessary  to  place  a  high  rental  upon  the  seats,  and 
caused  dissatisfaction.  Perhaps  the  spiritual  state  of  the 
cono-rearation  was  not  as  hip^h  as  the  earnest  soul  of  the 
minister,  although  in  this  respect  it  was  not  inferior  to 
others  equally  surrounded  with  social  temptations,  and  oc- 
cupied with  business  cares.  We  are  not  then  surprised  to 
hear  that  a  proposition  from  certain  New  York  brethren  to 
Dr.  Bethune,  praying  him  to  come  over  and  help  them  to 
build  up  a  church  in  Ninth  street,  was  early  listened  to 
with  favor.  There  must  have  been  a  great  attraction  in 
New  York  as  the  metropolis  of  the  nation,  but  more,  he  was 
her  favorite  son.  When  he  was  assailed  by  cynics  in  Phil- 
adelphia, he  only  appeared  in  New  York,  and  an  immense 
audience  rose  and  greeted  him  with  rounds  of  applause  ;  and 
never  had  he  come  to  his  native  city  without  finding  re- 
sponsive and  loving  hearts  to  welcome  him.  "Dear  New 
York,"  he  exclaimed,  "  Few  of  you  can  remember  it  as  I  do, 
"when  we  ran  down  the  Flattenberg  on  our  little  sleighs,  or 


skated  on  Lispenard's  meadows  and  Barr's  pond,  and 
through  Leonard  street,  up  town.  It  is  my  birthplace,  the 
home  of  my  j^outh,  and  the  asylum  of  my  earliest  affec- 
tions." The  flattering'  invitation  to  his  home  was  serious 
and  business-like,  quite  sufficiently  so  as  to  necessitate  imme- 
diate action.  The  first  step  was  to  prepare  a  communica- 
tion for  the  consistory  of  his  church — a  paper  very  decided 
in  tone,  and  which  would  imply  that  the  pastor  had  made 
up  his  mind  to  sever  the  relation ;  but  this  paper  being 
placed  in  the  hands  of  a  prudent  friend,  Mr.  F.  I.  Hosford, 
was  probably  at  his  remonstrance  withdrawn,  and  in  the 
middle  of  September,  the  greatly  modified  letter,  which  we 
subjoin,  was  transmitted  to  his  church  officers  : 


"  DearBkethren  :  —  It  is  not  without  pain  that  I  address  you  on  a 
subject  which  occasions  my  deep  solicitude,  and  now  requires  your 
kind,  candid  consideration. 

I  inclose  a  communication  laid  before  me  by  a  number  of  gentle- 
men, friendly  to  the  Dutch  church,  in  Xew  York,  which  sufficiently 
explains  its  object  and  importance  as  relating  to  the  interests  of  our 
denomination,  and  to  myself,  as  one  of  its  ministers. 

You  will  agree  with  me,  that  while  our  immediate  connection  may 
be  with  a  particular  congregation,  we  owe,  under  God,  allegiance  to 
the  church  at  large,  and  that  our  personal  convenience  or  preferences 
should  not  bias  our  judgment  respecting  the  larger  duty. 

Our  first  question  in  all  cases  should  be  directed  to  Him  whose  we 
are,  and  whom  we  should  serve:  "Lord,  what  wilt  thou  have  us 
to  do.^"  Yet  among  the  methods  of  ascertaining  the  answer  of 
heavenly  wisdom,  not  the  least  is  taking  Christian  comisel  of  wise 
men,  especially  of  those  whose  official  position  gives  them  ecclesiasti- 
cal authority,  and  whose  tried  friendship  assures  their  sincerity.  In 
this  spirit  I  ask  your  advice,  and  hope  that  you  will  give  It. 

The  expediency  of  my  attempting  by  divine  help,  the  building  up 
of  a  church  in  New  York  under  the  present  auspices,  is  argued  at 

324  MEMOIU   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D,  D. 

length  in  the  communication  of  our  friends — -and,  as  you  are  not  ig- 
norant of  the  circumstances,  I  need  say  nothing  further  on  that  point. 

The  effect,  which  such  a  transfer  of  my  services  would  have  on  our 
church  in  Brooklyn,  you  are  of  all  persons  the  best  able  to  judge  of; 
consequences  are  in  the  hands  of  God,  and  our  part  is  to  do  our  du- 
ty, leaving  results  to  Him. 

I  may,  however,  and  should  speak  frankly  of  myself,  as  the  one 
whose  action  is  to  be  determined. 

There  are  reasons,  which  so  far  as  I  can  allow  my  personal  feelings 
and  private  relations  to  sway  me,  urge  me  to  go  to  New  York.  The 
hope  of  being  better  able  to  watch  over  the  comfort  of  my  beloved 
mother,  now  very  aged  and  infirm,  is  a  consideration  that  bears 
strongly  upon  me.  She  will  not  come  to  me  in  Brooklyn  (and  she 
has  reasons  for  this,  the  force  of  which  I  cannot  deny,)  and  so,  if  we 
are  to  be  near  each  other,  I  should  go  to  her  in  New  York. 

I  have  also  some  warm  and  attached  friends  in  my  native  city, 
whose  society  I  am  now  almost  wholly  deprived  of,  among  whom  it 
would  be  very  pleasant  to  spend  my  declining  years. 

I  cannot  but  think, — I  liave  long  thought,  that  I  am  not  adapted  as 
a  man  or  a  minister,  in  the  pulpit  or  out  of  it,  to  the  community  of 
Brooklyn,  and  that  my  usefulness  suffers  by  the  prejudices  (to  use  a 
mild  word)  wdiich  surround  me.  Human  nature  is  mainly  every- 
where the  same,  but  a  larger  sphere  v/ould  be  likely  to  contain  more 
of  those  who,  for  any  reasons,  might  prefer  to  avail  themselves  of  my 
ministry,  and  sympathize  with  the  course  which  my  conscience  binds 
me  to  pursue.  My  residence  in  Brooklyn  has  not  been  a  happy  one, 
and  neither  my  church  nor  my  house  there,  free  from  painful  associa- 

When  the  enterprise  of  our  church  was  begun,  I  entered  into  it 
with  expectations  which  I  supposed  warranted,  and  with  distinctly 
avowed  plans  concerning  ray  views  of  duty,  as  well  as  of  church  poli- 
cy. The  disappointments  that  follov,'ed  greatly  embarrassed  me,  dis- 
tracting my  mind  and  heart,  occupying  my  time,  and  (still  worse) 
throwing  me  sometimes  into  opposition  of  views  entertained  by  some, 
if  not  of  all,  of  you  brethren.  As  I  had  carefully  and  explicitly  de- 
clared at  the  beginning  the  methods  which  I  should  feel  bound  to 
pursue,  I  have  kept  to  them ;  and  although  you  have  iiad  much  con- 
sideration for  my  convictions,  I  fear  that  somethues  I  may  have  been 
regarded  as  too  persistent,  if  not  unreasonable. 


My  position  has,  in  consequence,  been  painful,  liable  to  reproacli,  and 
disagreeable  surmise,  and  is  likely  to  continue  so  as  long  as  I  retain  it. 
I  should,  perhaps  it  may  be  said,  have  acted  in  view  of  this  at  an  earlier 
period ;  but  our  friend  Mr.  M.  will  tell  you,  that  at  the  time  alluded 
to,  I  put  into  his  hands,  for  presentation  to  you,  what  was  equivalent  to  a 
resignation,  which  at  his  dissuasion  I  did  not  press.  I  wish  it,  however, 
to  be  distinctly  understood,  that  I  was  then,  and  have  always  been,  ready 
myself  to  withdraw,  rather  than  that  any  one  of  the  congregation  should 
consider  my  remaining  inconsistent  with  their  right. 

Disappointment  in  the  plans  on  which  I  felt  myself  warranted  in  unit- 
ing with  the  enterprise  of  a  church  at  Brooklyn,  has  severely  embar- 
rassed me  in  various  ways  ;  and  now,  should  I  remain  with  you,  will  put 
me  to  the  necessity  of  some  severe  toils,  which  I  might  avoid  by  a  change 
of  pulpit. 

I  am  now  fifty  years  old,  and  ministers  at  my  time  of  life  do  not  often 
receive  calls  from  such  churches  as  are  adapted  to  their  habits,  and 
should  I  refuse  the  present  opportunity,  and,  subsequently  feel  myself 
obliged  to  resign  my  present  charge,  I  should  be  most  probably  obliged 
to  retire  from  pastoral  duty. 

I  cannot  conceal  from  you,  that  the  poor  attendance  in  our  lecture- 
room  has  given  me  much  anxiety.  It  would  seem  that  I  have  not  the 
power  to  draw  our  people  to  their  devotional  services  on  week  evenings. 
My  remonstrances,  varied  in  every  way  I  could  tliink  of,  have,  as  the 
result  shows,  been  regarded  with  indifference ;  and  that,  not  by  the  care- 
less only,  but  those  prominent  in  both  church  and  congregation.  I  have 
been  accustomed  (and  I  think  rightly)  to  consider  such  a  state  of  things 
as  indicative  of  a  decay  in  the  power  of  a  pastor  over  the  people,  and 
that  the  cause  of  it  lies  in  liim,  rather  than  in  them.  Without  a  revival 
in  the  devotional  services  of  the  church,  we  cannot  hope  for  a  blessing. 
Let  me  then  go,  brethren,  rather  than  remain,  if  I  am  in  the  way  of 
spiritual  good  to  you  ani  the  people.  I  have  done,  in  the  lecture-room, 
as  well  as  I  could,  pnd  so  cannot  promiGC  to  do  better. 

Brethren,  I  have  opened  my  heart  to  you  frankly.  Perhaps,  jou  will 
think  me  unduly  sensitive,  on  some  points,  at  least.  But  we  ministers 
are  a  sensitive  race ;  some  of  us,  it  may  be,  more  so  than  others.  Our 
wealth  lies  in  principles,  affections  and  sentiments.  There  we  are  most 
vulnerable,  and  suffer  most.  IMy  former  pastoral  history  has  been  such 
as  to  unfit  mc  for  trials,  before  never  eucountered. 

326  MEMOIR   OF    GEO.    W.    BETIIUNE,    D.  D. 

On  the  other  hand,  there  are  strong  motives  disinclining  me  to  leave 

When  I  began  with  the  pressure  of  an  enormous  debt,  which,  con- 
trary to  what  I  had  supposed  an  understood  agreement,  had  been  put 
upon  us,  I  did  not  do  it  otherwise  than  in  a  spirit  of  self-sacrifice,  in- 
tending to  try  the  desperate  experiment,  and  afterwards  seek  compara-' 
tive  rest  elsewhere.  But  as  I  pursued  my  Avork,  my  heart  grew  to  it, 
and  to  the  people  who  gatliered  under  my  care.  The  numbers  guided 
into  the  fold  by  my  pastoral  hand,  the  unaffected  kindness  manifested  to 
me  by  many,  the  scenes  of  joy  and  sorrow  in  which  I  have  sympathized 
with  them,  the  memories  of  the  precious  dead,  whom  living  I  had  learned 
to  love,  the  attention  not  unfrequently  accorded  to  my  Sabbath  teach- 
ings, the  faithful  zeal  of  our  young  people  in  enterprises  of  religious 
charity,  the  prayers  that  have  been  put  up  for  me,  and  the  prayers  I  have 
put  up  for  you  all,  the  very  pains,  and  sufferings,  and  reproaches,  and 
labors  I  have  gone  through  for  your  sake,  all  have  endeared  me  to  some 
of  you,  but  far  more  have  endeared  you  all  to  me. 

The  Sabbath  school  and  missionary  enterprises,  recently  begun  and 
carried  on  by  our  people  under  your  lead,  brethren,  have  done  more 
than  anything  else  in  our  history,  to  soothe  my  anxieties.  We  can 
never  despair  of  a  church,  which  puts  the  cause  of  mercy  first,  and  it- 
self second.  If  such  is  to  be  your  future  policy,  you  will  have  'the 
blessing,  whatever  else  happens  to  you. 

The  recent,  and,  as  I  understand,  (inform  me  if  I  am  mistaken)  suc- 
cessful effort  to  pay  all  the  debt  of  the  church,  excepting  that  for  the 
ground,  puts  us,  financially,  just  where  I  was  promised  that  we  should 
be  when  the  churcli  was  complete.  Only  now,  is  the  church  pecuniarily 
in  the  condition  in  which  alone  I  engaged  to  be  its  minister.  We  have 
passed  through  sad  trials  to  reach  this  point.  But  the  character  of  the 
effort  which  has  thrown  off  the  incubus  that  lay  so  heavily  and  long  on 
our  strength,  has  deeply  affected  me.  So  many  have  united,  and  all 
of  them  contributed  so  liberally,  so  much  more  liberally  than  we 
could  have  hoped,  that  I  regard  your  congregation  as  strong,  harmoni- 
ous, consolidated,  and  of  a  most  generous  spirit.  I  should  be  most  in- 
sensible, did  I  not  feel  personally  and  warmly  grateful  for  the  satisfac- 
tion derived  from  the  result,  but  especially  from  the  persons  and  means 
by  which  it  has  been  reached. 


I  am  also  most  conveniently  domesticated  in  the  house  provided  by 
the  kind  care  of  many  friends,  for  the  comfort  of  my  invalid  wife  and 
myself.  I  can  never  hope  to  find  a  dwelling  better  adapted  to  our  pe- 
culiar necessities  ;  and  although,  with  all  its  attractions,  it  has  been  the 
occasion  to  me,  in  some  respects,  of  pain,  in  other  respects,  of  embarass- 
ment,  yet  it  is  very  pleasant  to  us  as  a  memorial  of  kindness,  and  has 
been  hallowed  by  many  an  hour  of  domestic  enjoyment  and  religious  re- 

Thus,  you  see,  my  brethren,  how  my  feelings  and  preferences  alter- 
nate. I  wish  to  do  my  duty.  I  wish  to  forget,  so  far  as  I  can,  all  but 
the  kindness  I  have  received  and  the  happiness  I  have  enjoyed.  I  can 
truly  say  that  no  ambitious  motives  tempt  me.  I  wish  to  do  my  duty, 
and  in  circumstances  where  I  shall  be  least  hindered  in  acting  out  what 
are  now  to  me  inflexible  rules  of  duty. 

If  it  be  my  duty  to  go  to  the  enterprise  now  proposed  to  me,  and  at- 
tempt to  build  up,  before  my  work  on  earth  is  done,  another  church  for 
my  Master's  honor,  I  am  ready  to  go  ;  but  I  shall  not  tear  myself  away 
from  my  present  charge  without  a  bleeding  heart. 

If  it  be  my  duty  to  remain  with  you,  I  am  ready  to  do  so  with  affec- 
tionate zeal ;  though  it  will  be  at  a  sacrifice  of  private  relationships,  and 
temporal  interests— of  the  latter,  more  than  appears  on  the  surface. 

Brethren,  notwithstanding  my  errors  and  infirmities,  you  are  my 
friends.  You  are  the  friends  of  the  Dutch  Church.  You  are  the  over- 
seers of  the  flock  dear  to  us  all.  Advise  me  as  a  man  and  as  a  minister. 
I  shrink  from  doing  anything  that  may  provoke  your  censure  ;  nay  I  am 
unwilling  to  do — I  cannot  do  anything  in  this  matter  without  your  approv- 

But  I  expect  from  you  the  conscientious  exercise  of  large  and  liberal 
judgment.  Whatever  be  the  result,  I  trust  that  we  shall  ever  be  united 
in  the  best  bonds  ! 

Your  brother  and  servant  in  the  kingdom  and  patience  of  Jesus  Christ, 

George  W.  Bethcne. 
Claveeack,  September  13,  1855." 

The  answer  was  promptly  as  follows 

328  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

*' Consistory  room  or  the  Church  on  the  Heights. 

Brooklyn,  Sept.  17,  1855. 
George  W.  Bethune.  D.  D. 

Reverend  and  dear  sir  :  The  Consistory  of  this  church  have  re- 
ceived, and  endeavored  in  the  fear  of  God,  and  with  love  for  his  church, 
and  for  you  their  pastor,  to  give  to  your  communication  of  the  13th  inst., 
and  the  accompanying  documents,  that  attention  which  the  nature  and 
importance  of  the  subject  demanded,  and  which  you  so  candidly  request- 
ed ;  and  although,  from  the  necessity  that  existed,  imperious  as  it  seemed 
to  them  of  an  early  answer,  they  have  been  unable  so  fully  to  present 
their  views  and  arguments  as  otherwise  they  might  have  done,  yet,  they 
feel  a  greater  confidence  in  this  expression  of  their  views,  from  the  fact 
that  they  are  the  unanimous  conviction  of  the  members  of  the  Consistory. 

We  do  indeed,  in  the  language  of  your  communication,  feel  ourselves 
your  '  friends'.  Yv^e  trust  the  views  we  suggest  for  your  adoption,  are 
such  as  will,  if  acted  upon,  prove  us  your  judicious  advisers. 

It  is  almost  impossible  for  us  on  this  subject — a  matter  so  dear  to  our 
hearts — to  lay  aside  all  personal  desires  and  influences,  but  we  have  en- 
deavoured impartially,  as  the  friends  of  the  Church  to  which  we  belong, 
and  as  the  'overseers  of  the  flock  dear  to  us  all',  to  meet  the  question, 
you  so  fairly  and  frankly  present. 

Candour  compels  us  to  admit  that  there  is  great  force  and  weight  in 
the  arguments  presented  by  the  gentlemen  who  have  invited  you  to  the 
field  of  usefulness  in  New  York  :  and  we  use  no  flattering  words  when 
we  say  that  we  cannot  reasonably  doubt  that  your  abilities  and  eloquence 
would  soon  draw  around  you  in  that  commercial  metropolis,  a  congre- 
gation in  which  you  would  doubtless  be  happy  and  useful  to  a  great 
degree,  while  your  presence  there,  would,  we  feel  well  assured,  be  of 
great  service  to  the  interests  of  the  Dutch  Church.  We  are  not  then 
blind  or  deaf  to  the  prospects  in  that  communication  opened,  nor  to  the 
views  by  those  gentlemen  expressed.  Nor  are  we  unmindful,  dear  sir, 
of  the  peculiar  temptations  and  trials  that  have  befallen  you  while  with 
us  ;  temptations  and  trials,  not  easily  to  be  borne  we  admit ;  but  in  which 
you  have  had  our  sympathies,  and  those  of  the  whole  congregation — and 
which  we  now  fondly  hope  are  removed,  so  that  they  will  no  more 
trouble  you  hereafter. 

We  feel  persuaded,  dear  sir,  that  you  do  yourself,  if  not  the  inhabi- 


tantsof  this  city,  injustice  in  supposing  them  incopable  or  umvilling  to 
appreciate  your  services  in  their  midst  ;  and  we  trust  the  reasons  we 
shall  presently  urge,  will  eradicate  effectually  any  such  impressions  from 
your  mind.  When  first,  dear  sir,  it  was  proposed  to  you  to  become  a 
pastor  of  a  church  in  this  city,  it  was  with  hesitation,  almost  amounting 
to  a  conviction  that  you  would  not  accept  it,  that  the  Henry  street  church 
sought  for  your  aid  ;  and  never  can  we  forget,  (whatever  may  be  the  final 
result)  how  unselfishly  you  put  from  you,  other  honorable,  pressing, 
responsible  positions,  that  you  might  give  your  energies,  and  devote  the 
talents  with  which  God  had  so  liberally  endowed  you,  towards  the  up- 
building of  a  weak,  nay  almost  wholly  broken-down  church.  You  remem- 
ber, doubtless,  as  well  as  we,  the  position  of  that  church  as  you  found  it ; 
but  you  do  not,  cannot  know,  as  do  some  of  us,  the  labors  and  struggles 
and  efforts  and  prayers  that  had  been  made  and  offered,  before  it  reached 
that  sad  condition — and  apparently  all  had  been  in  vain.  Vv^'hen,  thanks 
be  to  God,  (for  it  was  He  alone  who  inclined  your  heart  to  it,)  you 
entered  into  that  then  almost  forsaken  church,  and  became  a  shepherd  to 
that  flock,  then  without  a  shepherd's  care.  But  if  such  was  the  condition 
of  that  particular  church,  what  was  the  condition  of  the  Dutch  Church  at 
large  in  this  city  and  vicinity,  prior  to  your  advent?  This  was,  sir,  or 
rather  should  have  been,  a  strong-hold  of  the  Dutch  Church.  But  where 
was  its  strength  ? 

To  particularize,  would  be  invidious ;  but  we  ask  you,  sir,  frankly, 
where  was  there  a  flourishing  Dutch  church  when  you  came  among  us  ? 
And  now,  what  is  its  state  ?  Can  you  not,  sir,  see  its  growth  ;  new 
churches  where  there  were  none  before,  strong  churches  where  before 
there  were  weak  ones,  increased  liberality  of  the  former  churches  to 
benevolent  objects,  and  a  respect  for  the  denomination  in  the  community 
at  large  ?  And  all  this,  we  cannot  deny  it,  since  you  came.  Shall  we 
not  say  that,  under  God,  you,  dear  sir,  have  been  in  a  great  measure 
the  honoured  means  of  infusing  this  spirit,  and  bringing  about  tliis  result? 
We  do  not  doubt  it.  And  is  all  this  nothing  accomplished  ?  Is  this  work 
quite  done  ?     We  look  in  faith  for  greater  things. 

But  all  this,  had  our  own  church  not  prospered,  might  have  been 
of  little  avail  in  this  expression  of  our  views.  An  attentive  observer 
of  men  and  manners,  as  you  are,  cannot  have  failed  of  noticing  ere 
this,  that  the  population  of  Brooklyn,  as  a  whole,  is  composed  of  that 

330  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

class  of  society,  wlio  are  of  middle  life,  and  who  not  having  yet  (as  a 
general  thing)  attained  to  any  considerable  wealth,  are  active,  pros- 
pering, and  vigorous  ;  they  are  of  that  class  whose  future  is  full  of 
promise.  More,  too,  than  ordinarily  are  they  attached  to  their 
churches  and  church-privileges,  and  but  little  do  they  look  for  those 
sources  of  public,  united,  and  social  pleasures,  which  are  sought  for 
in  other  cities. 

As  a  consequence  of  this  state  of  things,  it  has  followed,  as  of 
course,  that  dependant  so  much  upon,  and  devoted  so  much  to  their 
church  -privileges,  the}^  have  been  gifted  with  a  class  of  Divines  of 
rarely  equalled  ability  and  worth.  And  it  was  needful  that  our 
denomination  should,  in  this  respect,  be  able  to  take  a  position  with 
the  other  tribes.  But  this  very  fact,  conjoined  with  a  precedence 
that  the  other  denominations  had  acquired  over  ours,  by  reason  of 
our  slothfulness  and  inactivity,  rendered  the  undertaking  by  no  means 
an  easy  one,  of  establishing  a  new  church  in  the  midst  of  a  city 
already  so  thickly  settled  with  churches.  Nor  could  we,  nor  would 
we,  do  otherwise,  God  helping  us,  than  erect  a  building,  which, 
while  it  would  be  worthy  of  our  position,  should  be  a  temple  beauti- 
ful as  it  ought  to  be  for  the  worship  of  our  God,  and  the  honor  of  His 

In  addition  to  all  this,  it  should  not  be  forgotten  that,  although  the 
Henry  Street  Church  had,  by  the  time  you  came  there,  become  very 
much  scattered,  yet  your  coming  among  them,  while  it  united  them 
all  readily,  also  made  them  feel  the  need  of  a  larger  place  of  worship, 
where  more  could  enjoy  your  ministrations.  This  brought  with  it  the 
necessity  of  buying  and  building,  with  its  attendant  expenses ;  and 
the  following  necessity  of  gathering  together  from  the  community  a 
surplus  congregation,  to  fill  a  much  larger  than  the  old  building. 

The  history  of  the  enterprise  it  is  unnecessary  to  relate ;  the 
liberality  of  the  people  was  much  more  than  in  proportion  to  their 
means,  and  the  building  progressed.  Nor  were  you,  dear  sir,  with 
gratitude  we  remember  it,  ever  wanting  in  your  sympathy  and  co- 
operation. The  subsequent  serious  failure  of  one  of  the  artificers, 
the  inadequate  estimate  of  the  cost,  and  the  ever  attendant  contingent 
and  unexpected  expenses  incidental  to  a  building  of  this  magnitude, 
presented,  when  it  was  completed,  the  unhappy  truth  to  the  minds 
of  the  people,  that,  while  they  had  a  beautiful  place  of  worship,  and 


a  minister  whose  services  they  could  not  too  highly  appreciate,  they 
were  greatly,  sadly  indebted.  This  was  doubtless  a  source  of  great 
evil  to  the  church,  of  embarrassment  to  yourself  (not  the  less  so, 
because  contrary  to  your  well-founded  expectations),  and  has,  we 
cannot  deny  it,  been  the  fountain  from  which  have  flowed  the  bitter 
waters  that  have  seemed,  at  times,  destined  to  destroy  our  prosperity. 
No  doubt,  many  persons  have  been  prevented  by  the  fact  of  this  debt 
alone,  from  forming  a  connection  with  us,  and  have  gone  to  other 
churches,  free  or  freer  of  embarrassment,  who  would  have  been,  to 
us,  of  great  service  by  their  counsel  and  prayers. 

But  now,  thanks  be  to  God,  this  source  of  trouble,  anxiety  and 
vexation,  is  removed,  blotted  out,  a,nd  will  no  more  harass  our 
minds,  or  stand  as  a  beacon  warning,  those  outside  of  our  church  to 
remain  clear  from  us  and  free  from  our  troubles. 

It  is  not  necessary  to  repeat  to  you,  dear  sir,  how  this  has  been 
effected.  Suffice  it  to  say,  that,  but  for  you,  we  believe  it  could  not 
have  been  done.  It  were  idle  to  deny  that  our  church  is,  much  of  it, 
composed  of  your  personal  admirers ;  those  who  have  no  particular 
sympathy  for  the  Dutch  Church,  but  great  affection  and  regard  for 
you,  and  your  ministrations.  Those  who,  should  you  leave  us,  would 
speedily  leave  us,  too ;  and  who,  but  that  they  had  supposed  you 
intended  to  remain  with  us,  would  have  left  us,  unaided  and  alone,  in 
this  our  time  of  embarrassment.  Indeed,  sir,  the  moment  that  the 
late  unauthorized  rumor  got  abroad,  that  you  intended  removing,  all 
efforts  lo  progress  in  the  liquidation  of  the  debt  were  paralyzed ;  and 
it  was  not  until  an  assurance  that  the  rumor  was  false  had  restored 
confidence  again,  that  the  committee  were  finally  enabled  to  accom- 
plish their  much-desired  and  zealously-pursued  object. 

And  now,  dear  sir,  with  your  efforts,  with  God's  blessing,  what 
may  we  not  look  for?  If,  in  our  weakness,  our  love  and  liberality 
have  abounded,  what  may  we  not  expect  now  that  we  are  strong,  and 
have  every  reason  to  look  for  a  large  accession  to  our  church  from 
outside  sources. 

You  have  doubtless  observed,  sir,  as  have  we,  the  constant  growth 
of  our  city,  in  the  vicinity  of  our  church  ;  a  growth  that  must  result, 
as  it  progresses,  for  the  filling  up  of  our  own  and  other  churche.^. 
You  likewise,  in  looking  around  the  church,  and  seeing  the  few  old 
persons  and   great  numbers  of  young,  middle-aged   and   children, 

332  MEMOm   OF   GEO.    W.    BETIIUNE,    D.  D. 

cannot  but  have  great  and  reasonable  hopes  for  the  prosperity  of  our 
church,  from  those  who  are  now  in  early  years,  and  who,  as  they 
attain  to  man's  estate,  will  serve  God,  we  trust,  in  their  day  and 

Nor  should  we,  nor  can  we,  pass  by  the  spiritual  welfare  of  our 
church,  best  known  to  you,  but  gladly  acknowledged  by  us. 

Dear  pastor,  can  you  look  on  those  gathered  into  the  fold  through 
your  ministrations,  and  not  feel  that  you  have  been  doing  a  work  for 
God  ?  and  can  you  believe  that  he  has  yet  called  you  from  this  vine- 
yard, so  needing  your  care,  to  untried  fields  ? 

And  the  liberality  of  our  church,  of  which  so  gratefully  you  have 
sjDoken  oftentimes.  It  is  not,  of  course,  such  as  that  of  wealthier 
congregations,  but  in  the  sight  of  God,  we  are  judged  in  our  gifts  as 
to  that  we  have,  not  as  to  that  we  have  not.  And  is  there  anywhere, 
in  any  church,  a  greater  spii^it  of  liberality,  than  ours  has  shown  ? 
And  who  but  you,  dear  sir,  under  God,  has  implanted  and  cultivated 
this  spirit,  and  what  future  fruits  may  it  not  bring  forth  ? 

Then,  too,  sir,  where  will  you  find  so  faithful  a  band  of  the  young 
men  '  who  are  strong,  and  in  whom  the  Word  of  God  abideth,'  as 
here  ?  Some  of  them ,  indeed,  the  fruits  of  your  own  ministry,  and 
all  nourished  and  fed  by  you.  Active  in  every  good  word  and  work, 
ready  to  communicate  are  they ;  apt  to  teach,  and  faithful  in  those 
good  works  in  which  we  know  your  soul  delights. 

But,  dear  sir,  they  need  your  fostering  care  still,  and  the  enterprises 
in  which  they  are  engaged  need  your  voice  and  counsel,  or  we  fear 
for  their  ultimate  success. 

And  now,  dear  friend  and  pastor,  with  prosperity  in  our  circum- 
stances, with  God's  blessing  resting  upon  us,  as  we  believe,  with  efforts 
to  do  good  successfully  at  work  and  multiplying,  with  great  hopes  and 
confidence  for  the  future,  with  a  home  in  which  we  hope  you  may  have 
much  of  happiness,  and  with  our  great  labor  accomplished,  (thanks  once 
more  to  Giod  for  it,  who  has  inclined  the  libei-al  hearts  of  his  people) 
we,  the  trustees  of  this  church,  to  whom  its  interests  are  committed,  are 
to  advise  whether  we  shall  voluntai-ily  consent  to  break  up  all  this,  to 
c-urrender  the  instrument  by  whose  aid  all  this,  under  God,  has  been  ac- 
complished, the  leader  with  whom  we  have  come  through  our  dangers 
into  this  promised  land,  that  he  may  go  elsewhere  to  incur  new  labor, 
to  enter  into  new  and  untried  fields,  and  to  assume  new  responsibilities. 

DR.  bethune's  reply.  333 

Dear  sir,  can  we  with  faithfulmess  to  this  church,  consent  to  allow 
you  to  leave  us  ?  Would  we  not  in  so  doing,  verily  be  guilty  before  God 
and  this  people  ?  We  cannot.  We  dare  not.  Wc  pray  you  stay  with 
us,  we  entreat  you  not  to  leave  us.  May  our  people  be  your  people, 
may  God  himself  be  our  God. 
With  sentiments  of  greatest  affection,  sympathy  and  esteem,  We  are, 
Dear  Sir, 

Your  friends  and  fellow  laborers. 

James  Myers. 
John  T.  Moore. 
Peter  Durtee. 
T.  J.  HosroRD. 
S.  B.  Stewart. 
J.  A.  Nixsen. 
Oscar  D.  Dike. 
Livingston  K.  Miller." 

'<To   THE   consistory   OF   THE   CHURCH   ON   THE   HEIGHTS.      BROOKLYN. 

Dear  Brethren  :  I  received  on  Wednesday  last,  your  answer  to  my 
communication,  requesting  your  Christian  and  friendly  counsel  on  the 
question  whether  I  should  or  should  not  accede  to  the  proposal  from 
New  York  that  I  should  co-operate  with  a  number  of  gentlemen  in 
undertaking  to  build  up  a  new  church  there.  You  arc  entitled  to  my 
hearty  thanks,  whicli  I  beg  you  to  receive,  for  the  very  kind  and  patient 
manner  in  which  you  have  addressed  me  ;  and,  on  my  part,  I  have  given 
to  your  views  my  careful  and  prayerful  consideration.  The  result  is 
that  I  shall  decline  the  invitation  from  New  York,  and  send  the  good 
gentlemen  from  whom  I  received  it,  a  reply  to  such  effect  this  day. 

It  becomes  me,  however,  to  say  in  all  candor,  that  I  have  not  reached 
this  conclusion  without  anxious  fears  lest  I  might  mistake  the  path  of 
duty,  and  that  I  have  been  determined  mainly  by  your  determination. 
You  have,  and  I  have,  we  trust,  endeavored  to  act  conscientiously,  and 
we  must  pray  God  to  forgive  any  error  of  judgment  into  Avhich  we  may 
unwittingly  have  fallen.  If  you  could  have  been  prevailed  on  to  allow 
of  my  removal,  I  am  persuaded,  that,  with  the  blessing  vouchsafed  to 
Christian  endeavors,  a  new  congregation  of  our  church  would  be  gath- 
ered which  might  net  a  little  subserve  the  cause  of  truth,  and  of  our 

334  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

denomination  in  that  great  city;  nor  can  I  deny  that  I  turn  from  the  op- 
portunity of  such  enlarged  usefulness  with  lingering  regret.  Our  rela- 
tions, official  and  personal,  are  of  such  a  sacred  and  affectionate  char- 
acter, that  I  could  not  go  without  your  approval,  and  since  such  ap- 
proval has  been  (though  in  the  kindest  terms)  withheld,  you  have  taken 
from  me  the  largest  share  of  responsibility. 

I  am  also  sensible  to  a  degree  that  you  cannot  be,  of  having,  in  com- 
pliance with  your  wishes,  imposed  on  myself  future  labors,  fitted  neither 
to  my  years  nor  my  circumstances  ;  but  I  look  for  my  compensation,  to 
the  pleasure  of  obeying  you  whom  I  love,  and  of  continuing  to  serve  a 
people,  every  one  of  whom  is  dear  to  me,  for  reasons  which  will  never 
cease  to  live  in  my  heart.  Those  reasons  I  detailed  to  you  in  my  pre- 
vious letter,  and  feel  now  more  strongly  even  than  before.  Be  assured, 
brethren,  that  I  resume  my  pastoral  care,  for  a  little  while  suspended  in 
thought,  with  an  honest  desire  to  do  my  duty  hopefully  and  cheer- 

I  am  obliged  to  add,  that  while  I  yield  to  the  conclusion  you  have 
reached,  I  do  not  fully  agree  in  all  the  views  you  have  expressed;  but 
retain  most  of  the  convictions  stated  in  my  letter.  You  will  not  believe 
me  blind  to  the  gratifying  fact,  that  my  ministrations  are  acceptable,  far 
beyond  their  merit,  to  a  large,  perhaps  increasing  congregation ;  but  I 
am  not  more  than  I  was,  persuaded  of  my  adaptation  to  the  community 
of  Brooklyn.  You  have,  in  your  reply,  substituted  '  appreciation,'  for 
adaptation,  the  term  used  by  me.  I  deserve  little  appreciation ;  but 
there  are  varieties  in  the  character  of  communities,  as  in  soils,  requiring 
varieties  of  culture.  My  education,  habits  of  thought  and  language, 
views  of  Christian  policy,  and  methods  of  action,  differ  widely  from 
those  of  the  large  majority  of  the  community  in  which  we  live.  The 
discrepancy  exposes  me  to  many  an  awkwardness,  and  to  worse.  Here, 
again,  I  shall  need  your  support,  and  it  may  be,  defence. 

There  are  many  things  in  the  spirit  and  enterprise  of  a  large  part  of 
our  church,  which  call  for  thanksgiving  and  joy,  particularly,  as  you 
say,  the  exemplary  conduct  of  our  younger  Christians ;  but,  oh !  breth- 
ren, the  thinness  of  our  prayer-meetings,  tells  another  and  a  sadder 
story.  I  do  not  speak  of  the  attendance  on  my  weekly  lectures,  though 
it  has  tried  me  sorely,  since  that  may  be  the  fault  of  the  preacher, 
though  God  knows  I  have  tried  to  do  my  best.    It  is  the  union  of  the 

DR.  bethune's  reply.  335 

people  in  social  prayer,  which  gives  to  their  minister  the  most  cheering 
expectation  of  blessing.  Let  us  ourselves  set  an  example  of  greater 
engagedness,  and  we  may  hope  for  that  of  others. 

You  allude  to  the  way  in  which  our  heavy  debt  was  contracted,  and 
I  fully  appreciate  your  honorable  motive  for  speaking  as  you  have 
done  ;  nor  would  I  offer  a  remark  on  a  subject  which  has  already  given 
all  of  us  too  much  pain,  were  it  not  that  your  letter  and  mine  which  it 
answers  will  be  preserved,  on  file  or  record  of  your  body  so  (uninten- 
tionally on  your  part)  making  my  statements  to  appear  like  inconsid- 
erate or  immoderate  complaints.  Permit  me,  therefore,  to  remind 
you  that  *  the  inadequate  estimate  of  cost,''  did  not  occur  without 
remonstrance  and  warning  from  me  at  the  earliest  moment  (of  which 
proof  exists),  and  that  nothing  intervened  to  lessen,  as  I  think,  the 
obligation,  of  the  promise  (on  which  I  relied  and  without  which  I 
should  never  have  joined  the  enterprise)  that  no  debt  except  for  the  land, 
should  remain  when  the  church  was  dedicated.  I  could  not  be  held 
responsible  for  errors  against  which  I  remonstrated,  or  for  mistakes 
when  I  was  not  consulted.  Neither  do  I  think  that  the  pecuniary 
obligation  was  the  worst  part  of  the  difficulties  springing  from  the  debt, 
but  believe  that  a  greater  degree  of  mutual  confidence  would  have 
enabled  us  long  before  this  to  have  extricated  ourselves  from  the  trou- 
ble. I  do  not  say  this,  brethren,  so  much  for  the  present  as  for  the 
future  that  when  any  eye  in  other  years  may  glance  over  the  documents 
of  this  crisis,  I  may  suffer  no  wrong.  I  trust  with  you  that  no  root  of 
bitterness  may  spring  up  from  the  past  to  try  us  again. 

Dear  brethren,  though  I  have  written  thus  plainly,  my  heart  assures 
you  of  its  most  affectionate  response,  to  all  your  warm  words.  Trou- 
ble is  inevitable,  and  often  the  narrow  way  is  thickest  strewn  with 
thorn  and  thistle ;  but  Christian  love  and  truth  like  yours  are  among 
the  richest  consolations  aiTorded  us  by  our  sympathizing  Lord.  I  fully 
rely  on  your  assurances  of  regard  and  cooperation,  offering  you  mine 
Avithout  reserve.  Let  us  pray  for  God's  grace  to  sanctify  past  expe- 
riences, and,  forgetting  all  that  is  behind  except  his  goodness  and  our 
unworthiness,  let  us  reach  forward  to  things  that  are  before,  looking 
unto  Jesus  who  is  now  seated  at  the  right  hand  of  the  Majesty  on  high, 
whither  all  the  articles  of  our  faith  lead  us. 

Brethren,  my  heart's  prayer  and  desire  for  our  people  is  that  they 
may  be  saved ! 

336  MEMOIR   OF   GEO,    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

Pray  for  me  that  out  of  my  weakness  strength  may  abound  unto 
you  and  yours  from  God  our  Father,  by  Jesus  Christ  our  Lord, 
through  the  Holy  Spirit.     Amen. 

Your  brother  and  servant  in  the  kingdom 
and  patience  of  Jesus  Christ, 

Geo.  W.  Bethune. 
Brooklyn,  Sept.  22,  1855." 

This  decision  gave  general  satisfaction.  The  matter  was 
not  understood  in  its  details  by  the  public  at  large,  but  now 
that  there  was  a  thorough  understanding  between  pastor  and 
people,  it  seemed  as  if  the  connection  between  Dr.  Bethune 
and  his  church  would  be  inseparable.  Brooklyn  rejoiced 
over  the  result,  and  public  feeling  was  displayed  in  various 

One  evening  the  Doctor  was  crossing  by  the  Fulton 
Ferry  ;  upon  entering  the  cabin  he  found  all  the  seats  occu- 
pied, when  a  thick,  husky  voice  cried,  ''  Dr.  Bethune,  Dr. 
Bethune."  Turning  in  its  direction  he  found  a  man  stand- 
ing, who  said,  "Doctor,  take  my  seat;  it  is  an  honor  to 
give  such  a  man  a  seat ;  ever  since  I  heard  of  that  big 
church  in  New  York  trying  to  get  you  away  by  giving  a  call 
of  five  thousand  dollars,  and  you  said,  you'd  see  'em  d — d 
first,  I  have  had  great  respect  for  you,  and  I  tliink  it  an 
honor  to  give  you  a  seat.''  It  is  needless  to  say  that  the 
well-meaning  man  was  not  in  a  condition  to  judge  of  the 
terms  most  appropriate  for  such  an  interview. 

Tiie  Church  on  the  Heights  now  went  steadily  onward  in 
a  career  of  unwonted  prosperity,  God  blessed  the  preaching 
of  his  servant  to  the  salvation  of  many,  and  the  edification  of 
his  saints.  The  Sunday  schools  increased,  and  soon  a  mis- 
sion chapel  was  originated ;  in  fact  his  influence  was 
exerted  vigorously  in  extending  his  denomination  by  a  line 
of  churches  from  Greenwood  to  Newton  Creek. 


Perhaps  we  shall  find  no  more  suitable  place  to  introduce 
the  following  incidents  : 

Dr.  Taylor  to  Dr.  Bethune.  ''Philadelphia,  Jan.  4,  1858. 

My  Dear  Dr.  Bethune  :  Soon  after  my  removal  to  this  city,  when 
my  study  was  located  in  the  church  edifice,  1  found  among  some  old 
books  in  a  closet,  a  small  edition  of  the  Book  of  Common  Prayer,  on 
the  fly  leaf  of  which  your  name  was  written  just  seven  months  before 
my  1  ttle  eye  saw  the  light  of  this  world,  namely,  Jan.  1st,  1823.  For 
your  sake,  as  well  as  its  own,  I  have  kept  it  in  good  company  on  shelf 
and  table,  and  sometimes,  I  trust  that  the  fragrance  of  its  precious 
things  has  perfumed  a  spirit  that  needed  some  such  refreshment.  Al- 
though neither  of  us  is  an  Episcopalian,  I  trust  that  we  have  both 
grace  and  taste  enough  to  appreciate  what  is  excellent  and  venerable 
in  the  fair  old  symbol." 

Dr.  Taylor  was  minister  of  the  3d  Reformed  Dutch  Church 
in  Philadelphia,  and  a  passage  from  his  funeral  sermon  for 
Dr.  Bethune  will  be  the  best  possible  commentary  upon 
the  above  letter. 

"  A  little  sentence,"  says  the  preacher,  "  I  found  in- 
scribed by  his  own  pen  in  1823,  in  a  small  and  almost  worn- 
out  copy  of  the  Book  of  Common  Prayer,  which  had  been 
left  by  him  on  a  quiet  shelf  in  the  study  of  this  edifice.  He 
thought  it  lost,  but  when  informed  of  it,  he  wrote  me  that 
this  volume,  the  gift  of  a  dear  relative,  had  been  the  sweet 
guide  of  his  soul  when  first  he  found  the  Saviour.  It  was 
returned  to  him,  and  long  afterwards  was  one  of  his  pre- 
cious treasures.  Since  his  death,  an  intimate  friend  has 
furnished  me  the  same  short  prayer,  copied  from  the  Doc- 
tor's pocket  Bible.  It  comes  to  us,  therefore,  under  the 
double  sanction  of  his  Bible  and  his  Prayer  Book,  and  con- 
firms our  impression  of  his  stamp  of  piety.  These  are  the 
words,  proper  words  for  any  believing  sinner  in  life  and 
death— w^ords  which  are  emphasized  to-night  by  his  infir- 

338  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE.    D.  D. 

mities,  his  struggles,  his  labors,  his  hopes,  and  his  passage 
into  the  sinless  life  : 

'  Lord  pardon  Avliat  I  have  been ;  sanctify  what  I  am ;  and  order  what 
1  shall  be,  that  thine  may  be  the  glory,  and  mine  the  eternal  salvation, 
through  Christ  our  Lord."  ' 

These  words,  from  one  of  the  ancient  fathers,  are  insepa- 
rably connected  with  Dr.  Bethune,  in  the  memory  of  all  who 
knew  him,  and  of  maay  wlio  have  only  heard  of  him  ;  and  al- 
though they  were  selected  from  another,  still  of  two  men  who 
walk  along  the  way,  one  will  pick  up  a  bit  of  rock  crystal, 
because  it  is  large,  and  the  other  will  stoop  for  a  precious 
stone,  because  his  trained  eye  recognizes  its  nobility  of 

Our  Doctor's  speech,  his  discourses,  lectures,  sermons, 
and  speeches,  were  thick  with  gems  thus  g-atliered,  for 
his  memory  was  not  only  retentive,  but  likewise  well 
ordered,  and  tlie  shelves  accessible. 

We  would  willingly  hope  that  the  quiet  which  evidently 
reigned  within  about  the  time  that  this  little  remembrancer 
of  the  past  came  safely  back,  enabled  him  the  better  to  give 
the  consolation,  of  which  Mrs.  Bethune  stood  in  need,  for 
the  afflicting  death  of  her  father,  Col.  Williams,  which  took 
place  in  March  of  this  year.  The  house  in  Brooklyn  was  a 
house  of  mourning.  A  short  and  emphatic  letter  goes  from 
it  to  assure  its  good  friend,  Dr.  Dunglison,  that  he  is  not 
included  among  those  whqse  presence  would  be  intrusive. 
These  two  of  the  original  "five''  lived  very  near  each 
other  in  soul,  if  not  in  body  and  a  succession  of  notes  ;  those 
from  Brooklyn  apparently  in  crucial  characters,  those  from 
Philadelphia  resembling  the  cuneiform,  were  the  means  of 
discussion,  sometimes  serious,  sometimes  facetious,  upon 
questions  of  orthography ,  orthoepy,  etymology,  syntax  and 



Dr.  Bethune  was  a  very  fine  scholar,  and  did  not  hesi- 
tate to  call  even  the  great  Dunglison  in  question,  when 
there  was  any  doubt  of  his  soundness  in  orthoepy. 

Dr.  B.  to  Dr.  Dunglison.  "  Dec.  21,  1857. 

Dear  Dr.  Dunglison  :  My  inclination  to  ask  you  a  question  is  so 
strong  that  I  cannot  resist  it.  Your  accuracy  as  an  orthoepist  has 
always  excited  my  admiration,  and  led  rae  in  most  cases  to  follow 
your  lead  unhesitatingly. 

This  has  been  the  case  in  words  ending  in  iasis,  Elephantiasis, 
Psoriasis,  you  put  the  stress  on  the  antepenultimate  Psoria'sis.  The 
lexicographers  put  it  on  the  penult,  Psori'asis.  The  rule  is  that  deriv- 
atives from  the  future  of  verbs  in  aw  making  aaty  follow  that  quantity 
\p(opiatj—a(ru)—ipc:Oi^ia(Tii.  Please  tcU  me  your  reason  for  deviating 
from  the  rule." 

Dr.  Dunglison  to  Dr.  Bethune.  "Philadelphia,  Dec.  23,  1857. 

My  Dear  Doctor  :  I  cheerfully,  and  at  once,  reply  to  the  question 
you  put  to  me ;  and  beg  you  to  believe  that  I  highly  appreciate  the 
kind  remark  with  which  it  is  accompanied.  I  have  been  not  a  little 
puzzled  in  regard  to  some  of  the  suffixes  in  technical  terms  of  Greek 
origin,  and  confess  that  I  am  so  in  regard  to  the  one  on  which  you 
consult  me,  iasis.  • 

At  the  present  day,  it  is  almost  always  appropriated  to  skin  diseases 
of  a  chronic  kind,  as  in  Petyria^^is,  Elephantia*sis,Psoria^sis :  of  old  it 
had  much  the  same  application.  I  do  not  know  of  a  case  in  which  the 
a  was  not  marked — when  marking  was  used — as  short.  In  the  case 
of  Elephanti'asis,  if  I  had  not  so  marked  it,  I  should  have  preferred 
Elephantiasis,  because  both  the  i  and  the  a  are  by  the  lexicographers 
rendered  short.  Elephantiasis,  and  when  the  first  edition  of  my  '  Lie- 
tionary '  was  published,  I  accented  in  the  manuscript  words,  similarly 
situated,  after  that  fashion — Car'diacus,  Syr'iacus,  gyp'tiacus,  grave'o- 
lens,  for  example.  Mr.  Charles  Folsom,  however,  who,  at  Cam- 
bridge, read  the  proofs  once  for  me — I  being  in  Virginia — changed  the 
accent  to  the  i  ;  and  I  did  not  always  sufficiently  attend  to  uniformity, 
so  that  I  find,  even  now,  one  or  two  of  these  words  accented  one  way; 
another,  in  another  way ;  and  another  without  any  accent  at  all.  I 
should  p?v/er,  in  such  cases,  the  accentuation  used  in  the  MS.  copy  of 
my    '  Dictionary ;  '  but  I  find  the  custom  so  general  to  place  the  ac- 

340  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

cent — where  two  vowels  come  together — on  the  first;  that  I  have — 
even  in  these  words — been  disposed  to  fall  in  with  the  custom — I 
mean  the  custom  of  those  Avho  are  acquainted  with  all  the  circumstances 
of  the  case ;  and  I  say  Cardi'acus,  &c. ;  yet  I  have  not  got  to  say 
grav'eolens ;  as  I  ought  for  uniformity's  sake.  The  advantage  of  car'- 
diacus,  grav'eolens,  &c.,  is,  that  the  accent  shows  you  know  the  quan- 
tity of  the  vowels — that  they  are  both  short. 

In  regard,  however,  to  the  words  mentioned  by  you  particularly,  I 
am  not  in  possession  of  a  single  Lexicon,  English,  German  or  Ameri- 
can, that  gives  any  other  pronunciation  than  Psoriasis,  Elephantiasis, 
Poteyriasis,  &c. ;  nor  have  I  ever  heard  them  so  called,  except  by  one 
or  two  medical  gentlemen  here,  who  have  now,  however,  determined 
to  abandon  the  accentuation  on  the  a :  yet  I  doubt  not  that  amongst 
the  medical  gentlemen  in  this  country,  short  is  the  prevalent  accentu- 
ation, whilst  it  is,  I  believe,  unknown  in  Europe  amongst  educated 

Dr.  B.  to  Dr.  Dunglison.  ''December  24,  1857. 

Usage  is  on  your  side  dear  Doctor,  but  I  am  not  satisfied.  Elephan- 
tiasis is  as  you  say  — but  it  is  hardly  from  ey.edavTtaco-atTw  the  cause  from 
the  effect.  Psoriasis  is  evidently  from  the  verb  xpupiau-airo  Liddell  and 
Scott  give  ipuioiams  Hedericus  (?)  ^wpiaan  I  can't  find  it  in  Scapula. 

Labbe  (?)  I  see  shortens  the  penultimate  et passim  omnes  —  but  look 
what  he  says  on  Elephantiasis.  I  have  turned  to  Athenseus  iv.  17.  The 
line  is 

n  6'  ccrriatris  tcTxdJff  kuI  aTeix(pvXa 

If  the  word  be  from  the  future  of  a  o  I  do  not  see  how  all  the  author- 
ity of  the  modern  world  can  make  the  a  short. 

All  the  best  wishes  of  the  season  to  you  and  yours. 

Affectionately,  Geo.  W.  Bethune." 

Dr.  B.  to  Dr.  Dunglison.  *'N.  Y,  MarcJi  10,  1853. 

My  Very  Dear  Friend  :  I  have  just  heard  of  the  overwhelming  sor- 
row which  has  come  upon  you,  and  cannot  restrain  myself  from  express- 
ing at  once  the  grief  and  sympathy  I  feel.  I  had  known  that  Mrs.  Dung- 
lison was  ill,  and  anxiously,  from  time  to  time,  without  troubling  you, 
procured  information.  It  is  but  a  few  weeks  since  Mrs.  Ehvyn  wrote 
me  most  cheerful  news,  congratulating  me  on  the  hope  I  might  cherisli 
of  Mrs  Dunglison's  recovery.    I  thanked  God  for  you  both,  and  for  your 


children's  sakes.  You  know  dear  Doctor,  how  esteemed — the  word  is 
too  cold — how  beloved  your  admirable  wife  was  by  all  who  had  the  hap- 
piness of  seeing  her  in  the  home  which  she  made  so  pleasant  to  her  friends, 
and  where  we  saw  her  fulfilling  every  duty  with  such  cheerful  tact  and 
consideration.  You  know  too,  that  of  those  friends,  no  one  could  have 
been  more  attached  to  Mrs.  Dunglison,  as  well  for  lier  own  kindness  as 
for  the  blessing  she  was  to  the  life  of  my  dear  friend,  the  father  of  her 
children.  I  must  rely  on  your  knowledge  of  my  heart  for  assurance  of 
my  deep  sense  of  your  desolation,  and  of  my  suffering  for  you.  Words 
cannot  express  what  you  will  believe  that  I  feel.  Never  in  all  my  ob- 
servation of  people,  have  I  known  man  and  wife  so  fitted  to  make  each 
other  happy,  or  more  devoted  to  each  other's  happiness  ;  and  how  you  are 
to  bear  your  bereavement  God  only  knows.  To  God  only  can  I  go  with 
my  anxiety  for  you,  and  most  devoutly  have  my  poor  prayers  gone  up, 
as  they  will  often,  that  He  who  has  smitten  would  sustain  you.  The  world 
is  valueless  at  such  a  moment,  but  He  who  made  the  heart  and  sees  its 
inmost  bitterness  has  commanded  us  tlirough  his  Son  Jesus  Christ,  the 
man  of  sorrows  and  the  God  of  comfort,  to  cast  ourselves  upon  Him 
that  we  may  find  support  in  his  bosom. 

Dear  Doctor,  we  are  passing  away — our  lives  fail,  we  go  gradually  to 
the  grave,  let  us  look  abroad  and  beyond  the  present  scene,  and  assure 
ourselves  through  the  grace  of  God,  of  abetter  inheritance,  where  death 
cannot  reach  us,  and  sorrow  cannot  come,  because  there,  there  will  be  no 
more  sin.  It  was  but  a  day  or  two  ago  that  I  was  thinking  of  your  dear 
daughter  who  left  you  for  heaven,  and  remembering  thankfully  that  I  had 
been  of  some  use  to  her  in  preparation  for  a  better  life.  Mrs.  Lawrence 
(Benj.Eichards'  daughter)  came  in,  and  some  not  unpleasant  tears  were 
shed  by  us  both,  while  speaking  of  that  dear  child,  whose  face  was  so 
often  upturned  to  mine  as  I  preached  the  gospel  to  her  willing  ears.  Now 
the  mother  and  daughter  are  united.  Let  us  try  to  follow  them,  my  friend. 
I  am  pained  that  I  did  not  know  soon  enough  to  be  among  those  who 
were  near  you  when  the  precious  dust  was  laid  in  its  resting  place.  Had 
I  known,  nothing  short  of  absolute  inability  could  have  prevented  me 
from  going  on.  Mrs.  Bethune  joins  me  in  assurances  of  sympathy. 
Your  greatly  attached  and  affectionate  friend, 

George  "W.  Bethune. 
RoBLEY  Dunglison,  M.  D.  " 

342  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETIIUNE,    D.    D. 

On  the  nth  Sept.  1854  Dr.  Bethune  writes  to  Dr.  Dung- 
lisoii  to  aid  him  in  procuring  a  good  physiological  account 
of"  Laughter''  or  '*' Mirthfuhiess".  He  wished  also  to  know 
if  Dr.  D.  could  remember  a  good  treatise  on  Ridicule,  its  uses 
and  abuses,  as  it  came  within  a  plan  of  writing  he  had  just 

Dr.  Dunglison  to  G.  W.  B.  "Philadelphia,  Nov.  27,  1854. 

My  Dear  Doctor  :  I  have  in  my  library  two  books,  which,  I  think 
would  interest  you  in  your  researches.  One  of  these  is  on  the  'Epidemics 
of  the  Middle  Ages'.  It  was  written  by  Hecker,  Professor  at  Frederick 
William's  University,  Berlin,  and  was  translated  by  Dr.  B.  G.  Babington, 
M.  D.  F.  R.  S.  It  formed  one  of  the  volumes  of  the  Sydenham  Society's 
works  for  1844  ;  and  is  I  doubt  not,  to  be  seen  in  New  York.  It  em- 
braces the  *  Black  DeatV  (not  in  your  line);  the  Dancing  Jfawm,  which  is. 
By  all  means,  cast  your  discriminating  eye  over  it.  The  chapters  are, 
first,  Dancing  Mania  in  Germany  and  the  Netherlands  ;  second,  Dancing 
Mania  in  Italy  (Tarantism);  third,  Dancing  Mania  in  Abyssinia  ;  fourth, 
Sympathy,  with  an  appendix  on  different  varieties  of  the  delusion. 

Another  work,  in  two  volumes,  small  octavo,  is  *  The  Cradle  of  the 
T^vin  Giants,  Science  and  History',  by  Henry  Christmas,  M.  A.  F.  E.  S. 
F.  S.  A.  Librarian  and  Secretary  of  Zion  College,  London,  1849. 

Book  4  of  the  second  volume  treats  of  Pheumatology  ;  and  the  preface 
to  the  first  volume  contains  a  full  bibliography  of  the  authorities  cited, 
which  includes  many  works  you  might  wish  to  see. 

I  do  not  know  any  French  work  '■Sur  la  Folie\  which  contains  what 
you  desire.  The  best  are  those  of  Esguizol  and  Jenget,  which  I  have. 
The  *  Didionnaire  des  Sciences  Ridicules,'  the  large  work  in  upwards  of 
sixty  volumes,  contains  axiidQs  convulsionnaire  fov  example,  which  may 
be  worth  looking  at,  but  the  two  works  first  mentioned  by  me,  comprise 
enough  perhaps  for  you." 

The  following  anecdote  is  furnished  by  the  Rev.  D.  M.  L. 
Quackenbush,  in  a  letter  to  Mrs.  Bethune  : 

"  March  25,  1863. 
My  entreaty  that  you  should  favor  me  by  writing  some  of  the  circum- 


stances  of  the  counsels  of  your  wise  husband,  is  linked  in  my  mind  with 
this  remembrance,  whicli  may  not  be  without  its  value  to  you.  I  had 
entered  the  study  one  day,  when  the  Doctor  said  to  me,  '  A  young  min- 
ister to-day  asked  me  to  explain  to  him  my  rules  and  habits  of  study. 
I  told  him  that  I  could  show  him  how  I  studied,  and  laid  upon  the  table 
before  him,  these  two  books  : '  showing  mo  his  Bible  and  concordance, 
both  partly  worn  out  with  use.  He  then  added,  that  he  never  trusted 
himself,  on  writing  his  sermons,  to  quote  any  passage  of  Scripture, 
until  he  had  first,  by  the  help  of  the  concordance  turned  to  it,  that  he 
might  both  assure  himself  of  his  correct  remembrance  of  its  words,  and 
also  of  the  relation  in  which  it  stood  to  the  context.  He  urged  the 
greatest  conscientiousness  upon  this  subject,  that  no  misrepresentation 
of  the  mind  of  the  Spirit  might  be  made  by  those  who  preach  the  Word. 

It  was  Dr.  Bethune's  habit  while  settled  in  Philadelphia,  to  preach 
once  a  month  in  the  morning,  and  again  in  the  evening,  and  not  in  the 

One  very  warm  day  in  July,  1840,  he  was  waited  upon,  soon  after  liis 
morning  service,  by  a  committee  of  Dr.  Barnes'  church,  who  stated  to 
him  that  their  pastor  had  been  absent  several  Sabbaths  ;  that  they  had 
made  arrangements,  as  they  supposed,  to  have  the  pulpit  filled  the  pre- 
vious Sabbath,  and  also  that  day,  but  in  both  cases  they  had  been  disap- 
pointed, and  they  had  pledged  themselve:^  to  the  congregation  to  procure 
a  preacher  for  that  afternoon,  and  they  made  a  strong  appeal  to  Dr.  Be- 
thune  for  liis  services,  to  enable  them  to  fulfil  their  promise.  A  good 
deal  prostrated  by  the  heat,  and  his  forenoon  duties,  the  good-natured 
Dr.  nevertheless  said,  that  if  after  they  should  have  tried  for  some  other 
minister,  whom  they  mentioned,  they  failed  to  procure  one,  he  would 
certainly  preach  for  them.  They  left,  but  of  course  did  not  succeed, 
and  soon  returned  to  claim  the  services  of  Dr.  Bethune. 

About  3  o'clock  the  Dr.  went  to  his  study,  and  selected  a  sermon,  and 
on  coming  down,  Mrs.  B.  advised  him  to  take  a  cup  of  tea  before  he 
went,  and,  concluding  to  do  so,  he  laid  down  his  manuscript,  and  sat 
down  to  the  table.  After  tea,  he  proceeded  to  Dr.  Barnes'  church,  and 
found  the  house  crowded,  many  of  liis  own  flock  being  present.  He 
had  selected  a  sermon  preached  two  years  previously  in  the  city  of  New 
York,  on  the  commencement  of  the  anniversaries ;    and,  remembering 

344  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

the  text  and  hymn,  he  proceeded  with  the  preliminary  services,  read  liis 
text,  and  then  opening  his  manuscript,  saw  at  a  glance  that,  instead  of 
bringing  the  sermon  he  intended,  he  had  brought  the  one  he  had  preached 
in  the  morning  to  his  own  congregation,  half  of  whom  were  present 

Without  any  visible  pause,  the  Doctor,  thrown  suddenly  upon  his 
mental  powers,  and  tliinking  (as  he  afterwards  said  to  a  friend)  that  any 
fool  could  preach  a  sermon  when  it  laid  before  him,  determined  to  see 
if  he  could  not  preach  one,  with  another  one  before  Mm  ;  and,  although 
he  could  not  remember  a  particle  of  the  manuscript,  he  commenced  at 
once  a  sermon,  founded  upon  that  text.  He  was  listened  to  with  deep 
interest,  but,  after  finishing,  he  made  an  apology  to  the  congregation,  by 
stating  the  fact  of  bringing  the  wrong  sermon. 

After  church,  the  Rev.  Dr.  V.,  who  was  present,  asked  the  Dr.  if 
that  was  not  the  same  sermon  he  had  preached  at  the  anniversaries  in 
New  York,  two  years  previously.  Dr.  Bethune  replied  that  it  was. 
Then,  said  his  friend,  never  take  your  manuscript  of  a  sermon  into  the 
desk  with  you  again,  for  I  heard  the  sermon  z'Ae??,  and  have  heard  it 
now,  and  the  last  one  was  far  the  best,  in  every  particular." 

At  this  point  we  may  introduce  a  few  specimens  of  Dr. 
Bethune's  wit.  This  is  a  side  of  his  life  which  should  be 
made  the  most  rich  and  spicy  ;  but  how  little  capable  are  we 
to  reproduce  that,  the  charms  of  which  belonged  so  much 
to  its  surroundings  and  to  the  expression  of  the  voice. 

One  marked  characteristic  was  its  playfulness,  and  free- 
dom from  all  malice.  When  occasion  required  it,  he  could 
be  severe  enough,  but  his  habitual  humor  was  gentle  and 
kind.  It  was  brilliant  but  harmless  sheet  lightning,  blazing 
but  not  forked,  nor  fatal  in  its  stroke.  It  was  the  over- 
flow of  his  own  genial  life,  natural,  spontaneous,  impres- 
sible, and  often  full  of  his  classic  culture  and  sparkling 
spirit.  It  was,  however,  held  in  check  by  his  dignity  and 
sense  of  propriety.  And  while  it  shone  in  conversation, 
and  on  the  platform,  it  never  intruded  upon  the  sacred  pre- 
cincts of  the  pulpit. 


Representing  the  Knickerbocker  interest,  he  would,  as 
occasion  offered,  play  his  jokes  upon  the  New  Englanders. 
One  point  where  he  had  them  at  an  advantage,  was  in  the 
disposition  to  leave  their  bleak  homes  for  more  congenial 
climes.  "  They  reminded  him,"  he  said,  "  of  a  Scotchman, 
who  was  found  shuddering  all  over  with  a  fearful  dream. 
And  what  was  the  matter,  was  your  father  dead  ?  Waur 
than  that.  Perhaps  your  mother  ?  Na,  waur  than  that. 
But  what  frightened  you  so,  did  you  see  the  devil  ?  Far 
waur  than  that.  Why,  what  was  it  ?  Hech,  mon,  I 
dreamed  I  wor  bock  in  Scotland  ;  and  then  he  shivered 
with  horror." 

On  another  occasion  the  toast  was  given,  "  Boston,  the 
place  from  which  people  go  to  all  parts  of  the  world."  The 
Doctor  was  quickly  on  his  feet  with  the  retort,  "  New  York, 
the  place  to  which  people  come  from  all  parts  of  the 

Lecturing  on  a  very  stormy  night,  the  Doctor  observed, 
"  Though  the  assembly  is  small,  we  have  only  to  open  the 
upper  windows,  and  we  shall  have  an  overflowing  house." 
"As  I  came  round  the  corner,  the  wind  having  deranged 
my  umbrella,  I  had  a  lively  sensation  of  what  is  called, 
*  scudding  under  bare  poles.'"  A  gentleman,  smaller  in 
stature,  speaking  before  him  at  a  public  meeting,  said  he  did 
not  know  on  what  principle  he  was  asked  to  precede  Dr. 
Bethune,  except  that  little  wheels  always  were  before  big 
ones.  The  reply  of  the  ready  orator  was  by  a  Scotch  an- 
ecdote, in  which  the  spokesman  praising  a  lad  cries,  "  Weel 
done,  wee  Willie,  muckle  ane  hae  ketch  3-e."  On  another 
occasion,  when  Admiral  (then  Captain)  Foote  addressed  the 
meeting  first.  Dr.  Bethune  said,  "  You  know  that  we  had  to 
put  our  best  foot  foremost  to-night." 

346  »IEMOIR   OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

Conversing  with  a  stout  gentleman,  whose  face  bore 
external  evidence  of  good  living,  yet  who  spoke  in  feeble 
tones,  complained  of  his  health,  and  said  that  he  "  was 
as  weak  as  a  moth,"  "  A  Behemoth,  I  think,"  replied  the 
laughing  minister.  Sometimes,  however,  his  wit  was  fully 
matched  by  that  of  his  subject.  Thus,  when  Dr.  Bethune 
was  walking  with  a  clergyman  almost  as  full  in  person  as 
himself,  they  spied  another  Brooklyn  pastor,  who  presented 
a  perfect  contrast  to  their  rotundity,  and  who,  at  the  time, 
was  suffering  from  a  horrible  attack  of  dyspepsia.  As  he 
approached,  Bethune  said  to  his  companion,  within  hearing 
of  the  third  party,  "  See  there !  anybody  that  looks  so  ca- 
daverous as  that,  can't  have  a  good  conscience."  The 
thin  parson  was  wide  awake,  and  rejoined,  ''  Brethren,  I 
don't  know  about  the  conscience,  but  Pd  rather  have  the 
gizzard  of  one  of  you,  than  the  brains  of  both."  The 
good  Doctor  enjoyed  the  sharp  reply,  and  after  a  hearty 
laughter,  said,  "  Let  us  go,  we  can't  make  anything  out  of 
him  to-day." 

On  another  occasion,  when  introducing  a  lank  clerical 
friend  of  the  same  denomination,  (Baptist)  to  another  inti- 
mate companion,  with  a  twinkle  of  the  eye,  and  in  tones 
which  none  could  more  amusingly  emploj^,  he  added,  to 
the  ceremonial  announcement  of  his  name  and  position, 
"  But  he's  rather  shrunk  in  the  wetting." 

In  a  synodical  debate.  Dr.  Bethune,  taking  a  one-sided 
view  of  a  subject,  was  charged  with  being  a  jug  with  one 
handle  ;  after  a  little  while  a  man  who  got  himself  on  two 
horns  of  a  dilemma,  was  represented  as  a  jug  with  two 
handles,  but  it  was  reserved  for  the  Doctor  to  make  the 
best  use  of  the  joke  ;  for  a  brother  having  risen  who  was 
rather  famous  for  non-committalism,  and  who,   on   this  sub- 


ject  was  no  where,  Dr.  Bethune  said,  wc  have  had  jugs 
with  one  handle  and  jugs  with  two  handles,  but  here  we  have 
a  jug  with  no  handle  at  all.'' 

But  it  was  his  story-telling,  whether  at  the  dinner-table, 
or  in  the  social  circle,  that  made  all  about  him  radiant  with 
smiles.  He  had  a  fund  of  anecdotes,  that  seemed  never 
exhausted,  and  yet,  as  we  try  to  write  them,  they  seem  to 
have  lost  all  their  power.  It  was  the  grace  and  tact  of  the 
narrator  that  gave  them  their  lustre. 

One  of  his  Scotch  stories  ran  as  follows  ;  it  related  to 
the  times  of  Claverhouse,  when  the  poor  Covenanters  were 
so  fearfully  persecuted  by  his  dragoons  :  A  Scotch  lad  was 
reading  to  his  parents  the  Scripture  in  the  book  of  Revela- 
tion, and  came  to  that  passage,  "  and  lo  !  another  wonder 
in  Heaven,  a  great  red  dragon,"  which  he  pronounced 
dragoan;  ''Hoot  awa',  laddie,"  cried  the  father,  ''that's 
no'  richt,  for  I'se  aye  sure  that  nane  of  Claverhouse's  men 
gang  to  Heaven  ;  read  it  ower  again."  So  the  boy  repeated 
the  sentence,  spelling  the  word  dragon  as  before,  dragoo?!. 
"Sure  enoo,  it's  dragoon,  noo'  try  it  again,  an'  if  ye  no' 
read  it  richt  this  time,  I'll  e'en  gie  ye  a  thrashing,"  said 
the  enraged  father.  The  youngster  attempting  the  passage 
the  third  time  with  great  care,  still  rendered  it  in  the  same 
manner.  The  father  was  about  seizing  his  cudgel  to  correct 
the  reader  of  heresy,  when  the  naother  interposed,  saying, 
"Dinna'  fash  yersel',  auld  mon,  dun  ye  no  speer  (see)  it 
was  a  wunner  in  Heaven,  thet  ane  o'  Claverhouse's  men 
happened  to  get  in  ?  " 

A  young  friend,  who  had  joined  the  Baptists,  approached 
him  timidly,  lest  the  Doctor  might  censure  his  choice.  After 
some  hesitation,  he  broaclied  the  subject  with  the  remark, 
"  Well,   Doctor  ;  yesterday   I  joined  the   Army  of  Zion." 

348  MExMOm    OF    GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

"  Did  you/'  was  the  reply,  ''  in  which  church  ?  ''  "  In  the 
Pierrepont  Street  Baptist/'  came  the  faltering  answer. 
"  Oh  !  I  understand,"  said  the  Doctor,  ''  but  I  should  call 
that  joining  the  Navy."  The  young  man  was  thus  placed 
at  his  ease,  and  perfect  fellowship  was  established. 

In  closing  this  chapter  we  subjoin  as  specimens  of  his 
kindly  playfulness,  the  following  "  rhyming  letters  "  the 
first  furnished  us  by  Mr.  L.  G.  Clarke ;  the  second  written 
to  a  young  friend,  daughter  of  the  Rev.  E.  H.  May. 

The  Mr.  Gary,  upon  whose  name  he  rings  the  verbal 
changes,  was  a  most  accomplished  Christian  gentleman  ;  a 
successful  Nev7-York  merchant,  possessed  of  a  benignant 
and  happy  fortune  ;  a  bank  president ;  an  elegant  essayist 
(his  nom  de plume  *'  John  Waters  "),  and  a  true  lover,  ac- 
knowledged judge,  and  generous  patron  of  art.  That  he 
understood  the  aesthetics  of  the  table  may  be  inferred  from 
the  doctor's  *'  versides,"  as  he  termed  them  ; 

"  It's  quite  extraordinary 

In  my  friend  Mr.  Gary 
To  pretend  unto  so  much  amazement, 

That  another  should  think 

Cold  water  good  drink. 
When  he  can't  dine  in  John  Waters'  basement. 

His  own  store  of  wine 

Is  so  varied  and  fine, 
(Some  of  it  came  from  the  East  in  the  Argo,) 

That  he  should  have  pity, 

And  not  be  so  witty 
On  a  bard  who  has  no  Chateau  Margau. 

Why  the  man's  very  name 
In  poetical  fame 
Is  waterish  e'en  if  his  verse  be  not  \ 
And  all  know  bow  he  raves 


About  fountains  and  waves, 
Whether  salt  or  fresh  waters  cares  he  not. 

As  for  stocks  —  and  all  that  — 

I'm  a  good  democrat ; 
Hating  banks  —  I  defy  all  that  stock-broking ; 

But  Waters  himself 

By  them  has  lost  pelf, 
So  I  guess  —  from  his  lachrymose  joking. 

But  this  I  tell  thee. 

That  with  good  company 
Like  you  both  —  (I  pray  you  don't  doubt  it !) 

Cold  water  would  be 

More  grateful  to  me, 
Than  magnums  of  good  wine  without  it. 

I  write  as  I'm  able 

At  my  late  breakfast  table, 
Preserving  my  best  philosophy, 

And  wish  you  both  health, 

Fame,  comfort,  and  wealth 
In  a  cup  of  good  strong  Mocha  coffee. 

From  Philadelphia, 

This  twenty-third  day 
Of  March  (though  my  hand  seems  to  vary,) 

I  assure  you,  in  tune, 

'lis  G.  W.  Bethunk 
Writes  you  this  by  a  kind  secretary, 

Mr.  Lewis  G.  Clarke, 

Who  cannot  keep  dark 
Any  rhyme  that  a  rash  friend  may  send  him. 

But  my  heart's  not  a  hard  one. 

So  I  give  him  my  pardon, 
With  the  hope  that  good  luck  may  attend  him ! " 

350  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.    D. 

"  It  gives  me  hearty  pleasure,  my  dear  Miss  Caro  May, 
To  use  my  earliest  leisure,  in  answering  your  lay  ; 
But  you  are,  I'm  sure  you  know  it,  modest  as  you  may  be. 
So  natural  a  poet,  as  quite  to  puzzle  me. 
For  you  will  be  insisting  on  rhyme  to  answer  rhyme, 
And  it  costs  me  such  a  twisting  of  words  about,  and  time, 
That  what  to  you  is  easy,  since  you  were  born  a  bard, 
(Howe'er  I  strive  to  please  ye)  to  me  is  very  hard. 
Eager  as  I  endeavor  to  echo  back  your  wit. 
You  are  so  very  clever,  I  must  give  over  it. 
So  I'll  not  stay  now  for  phrases,  or  nicely  measured  strain, 
But  tell  you  how  the  case  is,  in  rapid  words  and  plain. 
And  first  as  you  desire,  I'll  tell  you  of  my  wife. 
She's  happy  near  her  sire,  with  a  new  lease  of  her  life. 
When  we  left  you  it  was  raining,  and  it  rained  on  through  the 

But  we  thought  not  of  complaining,  for  all  turned  out  just  right ; 
Next  morning  about  seven,  the  clouds  'gan  break  away, 
And  gave  us  from  eleven,  a  dry  and  pleasant  day ; 
So  we  left  the  canal  basin  without  fear  or  annoy. 
And  in  the  boat  "John  Mason  "  went  safely  up  to  Troy ; 
My  father-in-law's  old  carriage,  was  waiting  for  us  there, 
(We  rode  in't  at  our  marriage,  a  young  and  happy  pair. 
Since  then  through  changes  plenty,  our  wedded  life  has  been ; 
I  was  just  over  twenty,  my  wife  past  seventeen;) 
Her  bed  of  India-rubber,  I  put  the  seats  across, 
Did  you  e'er  know  such  a  lubber,  for  a  rhyme  I'm  at  a  loss  ,• 
We  laid  her  then  upon  it,  for  the  coach  is  very  large, 
And  when  I'd  safely  done  it,  I  left  my  precious  charge. 
Mary  squeezed  in  beside  her,  John  mounted  on  the  box 
With  a  brother's  care  to  guard  her,  safe  from  the  ruts  and  rocks. 
I  went  then  to  a  stable,  and  hired  a  horse  and  chair. 
For  as  yet  I  was  not  able  to  banish  all  my  care. 
And  followed  them  to  German's,  it  may  be  six  miles  or  more, 
'Cross  a  hill  as  high  as  Hermon's,  and  saw  them  safely  o'er. 
Then  sadly  there  we  parted,  I  shed  tears  like  a  boy. 
And  slow  and  broken-hearted  went  straightway  back  to  Troy. 
They  arrived  quite  safe  at  Salem,  at  an  hour  not  very  late, 


As  nothing  seemed  to  fail  'em  a  half  an  hour  past  eight ; 
I  had  a  letter  from  her,  in  which  she  cheerily  says, 
She's  having  a  sweet  summer  in  her  home  of  early  days ; 
I  go  from  here  next  Monday,  in  haste,  her  then  to  see 
Stopping  at  Goshen  one  day  with  my  sister's  family. 

Give  my  love  to  all  around  you,  I  have  no  time  to  write  more. 

And  let  it  not  astound  you  that  I  did  not  write  before ; 

For  I've  been  very  busy  with  many  a  hard  affair, 

About  wliich  a  merry  missy,  like  you  lias  little  care ! 

God  bless  your  father,  mother,  your  sisters  twain,  also, 

"With  each  kind-hearted  brother ;  and  I  wish  yourself  to  know. 

As  I  bid  good-by  unto  you,  though  ray  name  in  haste  I  sign. 

That  a  friendly  heart  more  true  you  will  rarely  know  than  mine. 

'Mongst  those  who  love  you  dearly,  (please  write  to  Salem  soon,) 

Always  reckon  most  sincerely,  George  W.  Bethune." 

352  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHDNE,   D.  D, 



We  should  neglect  a  great  feature  in  Dr.  Bethune  if  we 
did  not  describe  him  as  a  patriot,  and  a  patriot  of  the  first 
water,  whose  love  of  country,  like  every  grand  sentiment, 
bordered  on  the  extravagant ;  whatever  he  did,  he  did 
strongly,  and  so  his  devotion  to  the  Constitution  and  Union 
of  the  States  was  a  mighty  devotion. 

"During  the  Presidential  campaign  of  1856,  when  the  Kansas  trouble 
filled  the  land  with  unusual  excitement,  he  was  the  victim  of  the  deepest 
anxiety.  After  the  vote  had  determined  that  Mr.  Buchanan  was  to  be 
the  next  President,  he  wrote  a  long,  earnest,  and  eloquent  letter  to  that 
gentleman,  with  whom  he  had  personal  friendship,  imploring  him,  as  he 
loved  his  country,  and  would  prevent  the  calamity  of  a  civil  war,  to  use 
his  great  influence,  when  in  the  Presidential  cliair,  to  arrest  the  march 
of  the  slave  power,  and  repress  the  violence  of  its  reckless  propagandism. 
That  letter  he  read  to  me  in  the  privacy  of  his  study,  his  voice  at  times 
choking  with  emotion,  and  the  tears  running  down  from  his  eyes,  saying 
as  he  closed,  '  I  love  my  country,  and  if  there  is  a  word  in  this  letter 
that  ought  not  to  be  said,  tell  me  to  strike  it  out.'  I  shall  never  forget 
that  day.  It  was  the  beginning  of  a  series  of  mental  excitements  which 
has  at  last  ended  in  the  quiet  sleep." 

The  foregoing  is  quoted  from  the  Ohio  State  Journal  of 
May  20,  1862,  and  comes  from  the  Rev.  E.  S.  Porter,  D.  D., 
who  was  intimate  with  Dr.  Bethune.  The  original  letter 
we  have  not  been  able  to  obtain  and  rather  wonder  that  n  o 
copy  of  it  exists  among  our  papers,  but  the  answer  to  it  is 
as  follows ; 


'*  Wheatlands,  Penn,  Nov.  27,  1866. 
My  Deab  Dr.  Bethune  :  I  have  perused  your  very  kind  letter  of 
the  21st  Last.,  with  deep  interest,  and  sincerely  regret  that  my  numer- 
ous and  pressing  engagements  allow  me  no  time  to  answer  it  as  it  well 
deserves.  I  feel  proud  of  your  good  opinion  and  am  happy  to  say  that 
the  friendly  sentiments  which  you  express  for  myself  have  been  cordially 
reciprocated  on  ray  part  ever  since  our  first  acquaintance. 

I  feel,  as  I  ought  to  do,  the  high  responsibility  of  my  position;  but 
placing  my  trust  in  God,  and  asking  wisdom  from  on  high,  I  shall  pro- 
ceed with  a  cheerful  and  unfaltering  spirit  to  perform  the  task  assigned 
to  me  by  my  countrymen.  This  was  neither  sought  nor  desired  by  my- 

In  haste,  I  remain  very  respectfully, 

Your  friend, 

James  Buchanan. 
Rev.  Dr.  Bethune." 

The  followiDg  acknowledgement  from  Edward  Everett 
shows  that  Dr.  Bethune  was  diligent  in  the  good  cause  : 

"I  am  extremely  obliged  to  you  for  the  kind  expressions  contained 
in  the  latter  portion  of  your  letter.  I  have  looked,  and  still  look,  with 
great  anxiety,  upon  the  condition  and  tendency  of  affairs.  We  seem  to 
be  borne,  upon  a  rushing  tide,  toward  a  doubtful  future ;  and  much 
more  of  the  intellectual  power  of  the  country  is  put  forth  to  drive  the 
bark  onward,  than  to  steer  its  course  or  ascertain  its  destination.  We 
are  piling  rosin  into  the  furnace,  and  leaving  the  helm  to  take  care  of 
itself.  If,  as  you  are  kind  enough  to  tliink,  my  voice,  almost  spent, 
has  not  been  uttered  wholly  in  vain  in  favor  of  more  prudent  counsels, 
I  shall,  so  far,  have  performed  the  duty  of  a  good  citizen." 

In  December,  1859,  a  great  opportunity  for  the  display 

of  his  oratorical  powers  came.     The  United  States  were  to 

be   dismembered.     There   breathed   no   man  with   soul   so 

dead  as  to  look  with  coldness  on  the  fateful  struggle.     The 


354  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETIIUNE,    D.  D. 

great  Union  Meeting  in  the  New  York  Academy  of  Music, 
was  called,  and  he  attended  as  a  private  individual.  The 
meeting  had  been  prevised,  and  Bethune  was  not  on  the 
programme,  but  when  discovered,  he  was  enthusiastically 
called  for,  even  before  the  appointed  speakers  of  the  even- 
ing had  delivered  themselves.  At  first  he  hesitated,  having 
a  desire  to  avoid  violent  excitement,  but  moved  by  the 
tremendous  popular  cries,  he  came  forward  and  addressed 
the  meeting ;  we  reproduce  the  speech  as  a  noble  expres- 
sion of  patriotism,  and  as  it  gives  Dr.  Bethune's  sentiments 
on  the  Great  Question. 

"I  rise,  sir,  not  because  I  have  the  presumption  to  think  that  I  can 
preserve  the  attention  of  this  vast  assembly,  after  all  the  excellent 
things  they  have  heard  this  evening,  at  this  late  hour.  But,  sir,  I  come 
before  this  audience  to  show  myself.  (Great  cheering.)  Insignificant 
as  I,  personally,  may  be  among  the  millions  of  this  land,  and  weak  in 
influence  as  my  voice  may  be,  when  that  voice  is  called  for,  and  there 
is  a  question  where  I  stand,  I  wish  to  be  reckoned  with  the  Union  now 
and  forever.  (Loud  cheers.)  Yes,  sir,  I  love  the  Union,  and  when  I 
say  that,  it  is  with  the  wish  that  if  that  Union  is  to  perish,  I  may  die 
first.  And,  sir,  there  are  many  things  which  have  been  said  here  this 
evening,  with  some  of  which  I  may  frankly  say  I  could  not  coincide. 
I  am  not  going  to  read  law  to  you,  sir.  It  is  not  my  province,  and  I 
must  be  excused  from  accepting  the  theology  of  some  gentlemen  who 
have  invaded  mine.  (Laughter.)  Sir,  when  I  saw  the  call  of  tliis 
meeting,  I  said  I  must  be  there.  Never  have  I  attended  a  public  meet- 
ing in  any  way  political  before  in  my  life.  (Cheers,  and  cries  of 
♦Good.')  And  I  can  say,  with  a  clear  conscience,  that  no  man  has 
ever  heard  me  utter  in  public  a  single  word  of  party  politics.  I  belong 
to  a  higher  service.  (Renewed  cheering.)  I  am,  by  my  calling  and 
my  vows,  a  minister  of  the  Gospel  of  Peace,  and  it  is  as  a  minister  of 
peace  that  I  am  among  you  to-night.  (Applause.)  It  is  high  time, 
when  the  pulpit  is  desecrated  by  appeals  to  the  wildest  fanaticism, 
(Loud  cheers,  and  a  remark,  •  The  right  man  is  in  the  right  place  this 

UNION    SPEECH.  355 

time!')  —  when  rnen,  by  voice  of  ecclesiastics,  are  canonized  because 
tliey  h:ive  shown  the  pluck  of  a  bull-dog,  with  the  blood-thirstiness  of 
the  tiger  (applause)  —  it  is  high  time,  I  say,  that  one  who,  humble  as 
myself,  believes  that  the  Gospel  is  *  Peace  on  earth  and  good-will 
toward  man,'  should  act  upon  his  principles.  (Loud  applause.)  I  will 
not  enter  into  any  of  the  disputed  questions  that  have  been  foisted  into 
our  meeting  to-night.  I  have  seen  a  discussion  about  the  call  of  this 
meeting,  that  there  was  first  one  call,  then  it  was  altered  for  another 
call,  that  the  same  people  who  signed  one  could  not  have  signed  the 
other.  I  never  read  either  one  call  or  the  other  through  (laughter) ; 
all  I  saw  in  the  call  was  the  word  '  Union,'  (continued  cheering),  and 
that  was  enough.  (Renewed  cheering.)  I  remember  an  honest  Gov- 
ernor of  Pennsylvania,  whose  ancestry  was  traceable  in  his  broken 
speech,  was  appealed  to  for  the  pardon  of  a  man  who  had  murdered  his 
wife,  but  the  honest  old  man  said,  '  What !  pardon  a  man  for  such  a 
crime  as  that,  —  a  man  who  could  take  a  woman,  and  promise  to  nour- 
ish and  cherish,  and  den  kill  her?  Vy,  he  ought  to  be  'shamed  of  him- 
self.' (Uproarious  laughter  and  cheers.)  So  I  say  here  to-night,  if 
any  man,  in  getting  up  this  meeting,  or  in  coming  to  this  meeting,  has 
had  a  thought  of  Democrat  or  Republican,  or  Native  American  higher 
in  his  mind  than  Union,  he  ought  to  be  ashamed  of  himself.  Kor  shall 
I  have  sympathy  with  him  except  he  repent  in  sackcloth  and  ashes. 
You  talk  of  the  Union  being  dissolved.  Sir,  there  has  been  deep  feel- 
ing in  most  of  the  speeches  I  have  heard  this  evening.  They  say  if 
this  Union  is  to  be  dissolved — when  the  Union  is  dissolved.  "Why 
that,  sir,  is  what  we  logicians  call  an  impossible  hypothesis.  The 
Union  is  not  going  to  be  dissolved.  Do  you  remember,  sir,  that  once, 
in  old  Rome,  there  was  a  gulf  opened  across  the  city ;  it  was  widening 
and  widening  until  it  threatened  to  engulf  the  whole  of  that  splendid 
Capitol,  when  one,  Marcus  Curtius,  mounted  his  steed,  fully  armed  and 
equipped,  and  rode  toward  the  chasm  and  leaped  into  it,  a  wilhng  victim 
to  save  his  Rome?  Sir,  should  such  a  chasm  happen  in  our  Union, 
there  is  not  one,  but  there  are  a  hundred  Curtii,  —  a  hundred  times 
ten  thousand, — that  are  willing  to  leap  into  it.  Divide  the  Union! 
Where  are  you  going  to  divide  the  line?  (A  voice,  Mason  and  Dixon's 
line.)  Mason  and  Dixon's  fiddlesticks.  Do  you  want  to  go  ?  Wliich 
side  do  you  mean  to  go  ?     I  know  where  I  should  go.     It  would  be  with 

35 G  MEMOIR   OF   GEO.    W.    BETHUNE,    D.  D. 

that  section  that  holds  fastest  to  the   Constitution  as  it  is.     (Loud 

Sir,  if  any  man  has  a  right  to  be  proud  of  his  native  place,  perhaps  it 
is  the  man  who  speaks  to  you,  for  I  was  born  in  New  York.  But,  sir, 
what  is  New  York  ?  What  is  the  North  ?  What  is  the  South  ?  What 
is  the  East  ?  What  is  the  West  ?  Take  away  this  Union  and  we  are 
nothing;  worse  than  notliing;  a  conflicting,  jostling  chaos  of  rude, 
crumbling  fragments.  It  is  not  for  me  to  enter  into  this  question.  But 
I  repeat,  where  will  you  draw  a  line  ?  Will  you  split  the  Mississippi  ? 
Try  it.  Are  you  going  to  divide  by  the  assumed  or  imputed  evil  of 
slavery?  Where  does  slavery  stop?  They  grow  cotton  at  the  South, 
but  where  do  they  manufacture  it  ?  (Tremendous  cheering.)  I  beg 
your  pardon,  but  I  have  not  time  to  be  cheered.  I  have  read  a  story 
of  Cook,  the  drunken  player,  who  once,  in  Liverpool,  came  upon  the 
stage  to  act,  and  his  condition  being  evident  when  he  approached  the 
footlights,  they  Mssed  him.  His  indignation  restored  him  for  a  moment, 
and  he  looked  at  the  Liverpoolians,  as  he  called  them,  saying,  'You 
hiss  George  Frederick  Cook,  you  people  of  Liverpool,  with  the  sweat 
and  blood  of  the  slave  between  every  two  bricks  of  your  house  ?  '  It 
was  so.  There  never  was  a  slave  in  Liverpool,  if  I  remember,  but 
they  profited  by  the  slave.  They  bought  and  sold  Mm.  Yes,  sir,  there 
exists,  if  I  mistake  not,  in  the  plate-room  of  Windsor  Castle,  a  splendid 
service  of  gold,  given  to  one  of  the  royal  dukes,  by  Liverpool  merchants, 
for  liis  efforts  to  prevent  the  abolition  of  the  slave-trade.  But  I  wander 
from  my  purpose,  in  recalling  that  historical  reminiscence,  which  was 
to  say,  that,  in  some  sections  of  our  land,  where  the  loudest  cry  is  heard 
upon  tliis  question,  men  have  grown  rich  by  these  slaves ;  that  the  blood 
and  sweat  of  the  slave  is  between  every  two  bricks  of  their  sumptuous 
palaces.  Now  people  may  call  this  what  they  please,  I  call  it  hypocrisy. 
(Tremendous  cheers.)  Where  will  you  draw  this  line?  I  will  tell  you 
where  you  must  draw  it.  If  you  draw  it  at  all  you  must  draw  it  across 
and  through  our  dearest  affections.  We  are  one  people.  The  man 
who  lives  on  the  Aroostook,  has  his  brother  on  the  Rio  Grande.  The 
Northern  mother  has  given  her  child  to  the  Southern  planter,  and  the 
Southern  planter  bows  in  thankfulness  to  God  for  the  daughter  of 
the  North  to  cheer  his  home.  Will  you  dissolve  this  Union  ?  (Cries 
of '  No,  no,'  and  cheers.) 


I  tell  you,  you  need  not  ask  the  question.     You  cannot.     You  cannot. 
It  will  be  far  better  than  the  Sabines  and  the  Romans.     You  have    not 
taken  violently  the  women  of  the  South  to  be  your  wives.     You  have 
exchanged  consanguinity,  you  cannot  separate  them.    What  God  hath 
joined  together,  let  no  man  put  asunder.     (Prolonged   applause,  the 
whole  assembly,  on  the  platform,  floor  and   galleries,  rising,  waving 
hats,  cheering  and  shouting,  in  wild  enthusiasm.)     A  word  or  two  more. 
I  will  not  say  that  I  have  said  all  that  I  wish.     There  are  many  things 
which  I  could,  and  in  another  condition  of  circumstances  might  be  glad 
to  say,  which  I  shall  not  inflict  upon  you  now.      This  is  not  a  time  for 
dry  metaphysics.     But  I  believe,  sir,  that  we  inherit  from  our  fathers 
some  degree  of  that  honesty  and  truth  for  which  they  were  distinguished 
and  for  which  their  God  and  our  God  blessed  them.      Our  fathers  made 
the  compact  of  this  Union  —  our  fathers  made  the  Constitution  as  the 
mighty  bond  that  should  hold  it  together.     And  I  have  one  belief  that 
this  gift  has  of  itself  proA'en   with  its   checks,   its   balances,   and  its 
securities,    so    good  that    any    alteration   would    be   for    the    worse 
(*  Good ! ')  —  that  it  contains  witliin   itself  a  perfect  remedy  for  every 
evil,  if  our  people  will  faithfully  apply  it  and  wait  for  the  operation  of 
the  remedy.      There    is,   therefore,   n-)   room  for  revolution  in   this 
country ;  and  it  may  be  said  of  all  those  who  hesitate  about  its  principles. 
He  that  doubteth,  is  worthy  of  condemnation.     (Cheers.)    But,  sir,  why 
should  we  not  keep  to  this,  our  fatliers'  faith?     We  should  know  that  \rc 
are  bound  by  that  deed.     Has  it  not  been  in  the  faith  of  that  compact 
that  this  country  has  grown  to  its  present  prosperity,  and  shall  we,  the 
inheritors  of  all  the  blessings,  break  the  vows  of  even  political  baptism, 
which,  as  our  sponsors,  they  made  for  us  ?     No,  No  !     Let  us  keep  this. 
Lot  all  our  people  learn  that  thoy  are  bound  by  ties  which  none  can 
break.     The  bones  which  are  now  mouldering  to  kindred  dust  are  sacred 
with  ihe  nieraorios  of  their  patriotism.     We  should  be  violaters  of  the 
vows  they  made  if  we  suffer  one  stone  of  the  Union  reared  by  them  to 
be  pulled  down.     Sh',  I  agree  in  many  respects  with  my  good  friend  the 
ProfL'Ssor,  who  spoke  before  me,  and  I  have  great  regard  for  him,  but  I 
can  not  help  thinking  tliat  he  got  among  the  stars  to-night.     (Laughter.) 
I  believe  in  a  system  of  government  which  is  maintained  by  working, 
men,  men  wlio  work  in  their  primary  meetings,  and  who  are  not  afraid 
of  getting  their  coats  torn  by  a  rowdy ;  men  who  are  willing  to  take  their 

358  MEMOIR   OF    GEO.    AV.    BETKUNE,    D.  D. 

places  and  scuffle  if  it  be  necessary,  to  see  that  the  voice  of  the